The City Manager of New Laurel Park is up for the challenge; Ecusta Trail too

Alex Carmichael knows Montreat’s move to Laurel Park is a big step forward, but he’s confident what he’s learned over the past five years in the eastern border town of Buncombe County will propel him forward. success in Henderson County.

Carmichael, who began his role as city manager Feb. 21, will oversee the city’s day-to-day operations, including its 21 full-time employees, and implement policies directed by the city council.

Continued:Ecusta Trail Advisory Board forms to weigh in on design and construction

“The roles are very comparable,” Carmichael said. “The management experience I gained at Montreat will continue at Laurel Park.”

Laurel Park City Council appointed Carmichael after an intensive job search that began in October 2021 when former City Manager Christopher Todd was hired as Henderson County’s Director of Business and Community Development.

Carmichael’s nomination was unanimously approved at a January business meeting in which Mayor Carey O’Cain said Carmichael was selected from 19 candidates.

“Alex got to the top very quickly,” Mayor O’Cain said in an interview with the Hendersonville Times-News. “He’s going to be a great person for the job and has a youthful enthusiasm, which we love.”

During his tenure as chief administrator of Montreat, Carmichael managed the day-to-day operations of the town and its 12 full-time employees. Carmichael supported a redesign of the city’s website and oversaw several major capital projects, including the construction of a new city hall and public works facilities.

Carmichael announced his resignation at the Montreat Board of Commissioners meeting on January 13 and worked there on his last day on February 18, almost five years after the day he started there on February 20, 2017.

“It was a tough decision for me to make,” Carmichael told Black Mountain News. “It was a decision we didn’t take lightly, but I really think it’s the best decision for my family.”

Continued:Montreat hires interim municipal administrator and plans to change municipal positions

Carmichael also sailed in the first annexation of Montreat, gaining support from the neighboring municipality and getting a bill passed by the North Carolina General Assembly.

“I feel like these projects will be analogous to the projects that are here in Laurel Park,” he said.

As Laurel Park approaches its centennial in 2025, Carmichael will oversee the city’s centennial celebration, as well as many ongoing initiatives ranging from the Ecusta Trail project to working with the NCDOT on Highway 64 improvements.

“Those projects appealed to me,” Carmichael said. “I like a challenge, and the Ecusta Trail, the Highway 64 project, the Laurel Green Creek restoration, and City Hall were appealing aspects of the job.”

The Ecusta Trail project is a 19 mile trail project connecting Brevard and Hendersonville along an unused rail line. The project, which recently received state funding, runs through Laurel Park and was a big initiative that former city manager Todd has championed. Meanwhile, Highway 64 improvements are set to begin next year and include road widening and roundabouts.

Carmichael will also innovate on new initiatives, such as the potential construction of a new city hall.

Continued:Ecusta Trail: Railway records for abandoning the line; Deadline set for the purchase of the corridor

Mayor O’Cain told the Hendersonville Times-News that while the new City Hall is still in its infancy, the project could have major developments by the city’s centennial.

Carmichael earned his bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University and his master’s degree from Appalachian State University. He was previously executive assistant to one of Asheville’s two deputy city managers.

He is currently looking to relocate to the Laurel Park area with his wife, Loren, and their three children.