Fenwick Island has a new face in town. Last week, Merritt Burke stepped in as the new town manager.
Burke, who has a master’s degree, in public administration from the University of Delaware and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washington College, resides in Lewes with his wife and two young children. He comes from a diverse background, which includes time spent teaching history and English in Hawaii, as well work as a budget analyst for the Hawaii State Senate, a project manager for Ocean Atlantic and, most recently, the town manager for the Town of Bridgeville.
“I always wanted to go back into the public realm. That’s when I was employed with the Town of Bridgeville,” explained Burke, who had also interned with the Maryland and Delaware state legislatures.
Burke served the Town of Bridgeville for a year and a half before coming to Fenwick Island.
“I love being in a coastal community and the issues and challenges that surround a community set between the bay and the ocean,” he said. “In Bridgeville, things ran its course, meaning I accomplished a great deal and was looking for new opportunities and new challenges.”
Burke said that he jumped on the opportunity to become a part of the Fenwick Island town staff, as the town is closer to his home and the job allows for new professional challenges.
“I like the coastal community aspect — always wanting to live and work in a beach and coastal community town and all the types of issues that surround these types of towns, like the tourism, the environment, the traffic, pedestrian and bike issues; the challenge of managing a resort town where, unlike an inland community, it goes from essentially a sleepy hamlet to a bustling resort town; and I think that’s very exciting.”
Burke said he has had limited interaction with residents thus far in his new job, as he has only been with the town for a brief period of time, but he recently witnessed the town’s dedicated citizens at the town’s monthly Charter and Ordinance Committee meeting.
“It was exciting to see the volunteers pursue or update the code accordingly,” he said. “I’m enthusiastic and excited, and I’m ready to engage the community.”
Burke also said he’s excited about the town’s ongoing projects, including the ongoing construction of the public safety building and the upcoming budget season.
“I’m looking forward to the completion of the public safety building — that’s a very exciting project that’s coming to the end. I’m looking forward to starting on the budget and making sure that it’s balanced. The council members here are well-versed in every facet of this town. From a budget standpoint, it’s balanced, it’s lean and it’s a very fiscally conservative group.”
Burke also said he was especially excited to work with his new council and Mayor Audrey Serio.
“More importantly than all of that, I’m looking forward to working with my new bosses, the seven council members here in Fenwick Island, and specifically Mayor Serio. I’m looking forward to meeting the community and getting involved however I can, as I work for the council members and the taxpayers.”
Burke complimented the town’s staff for their excellent work ethic and knowledge of the town and said he hopes that, together, they will be able to accomplish a great deal.
“That’s the only way we’ll accomplish any goals here, is if we’re all on the same page. I don’t want to say it’s easy, but that’s what you shoot for. I’m very fortunate that I’m coming into a situation where the staff is extremely professional, knowledgeable, dedicated… I look forward to really blending in with them.”
Burke said that he hopes to stay with the Town of Fenwick Island for a long time and is excited to join the municipality’s team.
“I’d like to stay here a long time. I think there are a lot of quality projects. I feel very comfortable. I feel involved with the community,” he said. “I’m really excited to be in a coastal town and take on the challenges and the issues that surround being on the water. This is just a good fit for my skill set, from my management to my background in marketing, project managing, budgeting, municipal government… I’m looking forward to it.”