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Mayor, city councilors say goodbye during their final West Lafayette City Council meeting

West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis waxed poetic on his time in office during his final city council meeting Monday. (WBAA/Ben Thorp)
West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis waxed poetic on his time in office during his final city council meeting Monday.  (WBAA/Ben Thorp)

West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis attended his final city council meeting Monday night, bidding farewell to a group that included four departing council members.

Last year, Dennis announced he would not seek reelection after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

As he had before the Lafayette City Council a month earlier, Dennis thanked the councilors for their time – especially departing council president Peter Bunder.

“I’m here to say this has been, bar none, the greatest experience that I’ve never had any control over in my whole life,” he said.

Dennis also urged those staying on the council to keep the community’s needs at the forefront of what they do.

“And for those of you that are staying, please don’t forget the important philosophy of this legislative body. The number one priority is doing what is right for the community,” he said.

Dennis served for 23 years in the Lafayette Police Department before he was elected mayor of West Lafayette in 2007.

Some departing council members took time to talk about the good things the city had accomplished -- and challenges for the road ahead.

Nick DeBoer, who chose not to run for reelection, said the council has used taxpayer money well. But he said housing continues to be a challenge in the city.

“The more government red tape we put into place - the more design reviews and the number of minimum parkings - it all ends up making it more expensive to build housing,” he said.

DeBoer also urged councilors to greenlight some kind of development for the Chauncey Hill Mall.

“If in four years Chauncey Hill Mall is still there, then I guess inertia really did end up keeping it there,” he said.

In his final remarks, Bunder told the council he was excited by the shift in the makeup of the council.

“I am so excited that there are so many women - so many young people on this council,” he said. “That is so remarkable. People wonder how generational change happens -- I know! If you’re an old fart, retire. That’s good.”

The four seats being vacated will all be filled by women.

The mayor’s seat will be filled by the city’s director of development, Erin Easter.

Other departing council members include Jeffrey Brown and Gerald Thomas.