CUMBERLAND — After 15 years of service promoting and creating programs to develop Cumberland’s town center, Ed Mullaney, downtown manager, has submitted his resignation from his post effective Oct. 31, 2013.
“People are asking me, ‘How will you replace him?’” said Sandi Saville, chair of the downtown development commission.
“There is no way to replace Ed Mullaney,” said Saville.
Saville said Mullaney gave his resignation in writing on Monday.
“It was not planned and I’m not leaving the area,” said Mullaney
Mullaney, 69, explained that his schedule had become difficult when he was faced with additional family responsibilities recently.
“I just felt that is was time,” said Mullaney.
“We were aware that he was becoming overwhelmed,” said Saville.
Words of praise began pouring in after news of Mullaney’s retirement began to circulate on Tuesday.
“There are no words to describe what Ed brought to the downtown,” said Cumberland Mayor Brian Grim.
“He is a very valuable asset and it’s hard to lose him,” said Doug Schwab, a DDC board member.
“He dedicated his life to do more for downtown,” said Dee Dee Ritchie, executive director of Canal Place.
As for sitting still, that doesn’t seem in the cards for the man who became a fixture of the downtown as he walked the mall, stacked chairs, picked up trash, greeted visitors, gave out directions and managed his help staff.
Mullaney said he will still stay active. He plans on being an active member of Let’s Beautify Cumberland! and is currently working on getting new modern LED lights for steeples around downtown.
In February of 1998, Mullaney was hired along with Sue Cerutti to take over the management of the downtown mall.
The duo began a revitalization of the downtown until Cerutti passed away in 2007.
“I worked with the best in Sue Cerutti,” said Mullaney.
A 1962 graduate of LaSalle High School and then Frostburg State University, Mullaney starting working downtown after retiring from a teaching position in Montgomery County he held for 30 years.
Currently, Mullaney is assisted by Jennifer Light, the downtown mall co-manager.
“Jennifer is a great asset. It’s hard to lose someone like Ed. The DDC will have to regroup and take a serious look to see if we can do the same kind of things in the future,” said Schwab.
“Ed worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week. We are going to have to evaluate things now,” said Saville.
Mullaney started or assisted numerous programs during his tenure, including Friday after Five, Light the Steeples, Let’s Beautify Cumberland!, The Saint Paddy’s Day Hooley, Dining Under the Stars, Farmer’s Market, the Christmas Tree Lighting, New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, Friday Night Movies and more.
Saville said Mullaney basically started outdoor dining on the mall.
“People did not come downtown before Friday after Five,” said Saville.
The future of Friday after Five will have to be evaluated. Mullaney said he hopes it can be continued.
Mullaney was asked what he was most proud of during his tenure. At first he said Friday after Five. He then thought for a moment and said “that’s not it.”
“I live by three little words: Pass it on. I am most proud of being able to bring people together to help them become part of a community,” said Mullaney.
Telling the story of an elderly couple in their 80s, who had difficulty walking, but travelled to his office recently to make a donation to Friday after Five, was an emotional moment for Mullaney.
“They said they had been ill and couldn’t get out much this year. But, they said they loved Friday after Five and usually never miss it,” said Mullaney.
The couple proceeded to ask to make a donation.
With a tear in his eye Mullaney said, “That’s something.”
Grim said that Mullaney will be sorely missed.
“Although he did have help, Ed almost single handedly changed the downtown,” said Grim.
“I can remember seeing Ed on Thanksgiving Day out stringing lights on the mall for Christmas,” said Grim.
Mullaney acknowledges the long hours have taken a toll.
“I want to be a better friend to my friends. I want to spend more time with my family,” said Mullaney.
“I hope now he can come down to Friday after Five and kick his feet up and just enjoy himself. He deserves it,” said Schwab.
Greg Larry can be contacted at email@example.com