Jamie Angelle, chief communications officer, left, and Mayor-President Josh Guillory, right, hear remarks by Latarsha Howard during a town hall meeting on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, at the Robicheaux Center in Lafayette.

Frank Wittenberg, interim Lafayette parks and recreation director, suddenly retired Thursday, saying he did not want to be an impediment to the department or Mayor-President Josh Guillory.

Wittenberg was appointed interim director after longtime Director Gerald Boudreaux stepped down suddenly in June during a meeting with Guillory about impending changes and cuts to the parks and recreation department.

At a contentious meeting of the city and parish councils July 21 Wittenberg spoke on behalf of the administration when residents objected to Guillory's plans to shut down four recreation centers in Black neighborhoods and lay off 37 employees.

An email sent to the media Thursday evening by Jamie Angelle, chief communications officer, was labeled "Wittenberg resignation/retirement letter."

When Guillory first announced Boudreaux's sudden departure, he called it a resignation. Boudreaux has since called it his resignation and retirement.

In the letter, Wittenberg said he made the decision to retire after discussing it with his family in recent weeks.

Wittenberg wrote that he "did my best to run our department during this time. I do not want to become an impediment for your administration or for the department" or Lafayette Consolidated Government. 

Guillory, in an email response, thanked Wittenberg for his service and for stepping up as interim director, saying he proved himself to be a hard worker and a person of integrity who cares about the community.

"You were placed in a very difficult position here recently," Guillory wrote, "and you handled yourself with the utmost professionalism."

White Lafayette Parish Councilmen kill attempt to keep rec centers open in Black neighborhoods

At a joint city and parish council meeting Tuesday, the City Council voted to introduce an ordinance that would force Guillory to restore funding and keep open through the current fiscal year that ends Oct. 31 the four recreation centers.

The Parish Council did not second a motion by the lone Black councilman to introduce the same ordinance, angering residents who weren't allowed to address the councils.

Protesters delay town hall, mayor-president solicits groups to run recreation centers

Their anger spilled over into Wednesday at a town hall meeting hosted by Guillory when several residents held the meeting up for more than 20 minutes chanting to save the recreation centers, save the children, the north side matters and Black lives matter.

The 2020-21 proposed budget for parks and recreation will be discussed by both councils at a joint meeting at 1 p.m. Aug. 6 at City Hall, 705 W. University Ave. The public will be allowed to speak.

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