LAFAYETTE -- In the nearly 12 years she's worked for the city of Lafayette, Ann Merideth has helped guide some of city's largest development projects, making countless recommendations and crafting numerous staff reports.

During her time as community development director, she helped usher in the Lafayette Library & Learning Center, the Veterans' Memorial Building and other redevelopment projects before the state dissolved such agencies in late 2011. Then when she became special projects manager, Merideth oversaw other important endeavors including the creation of the highly-debated downtown specific plan. She also helped get the city's public arts program off the ground.

Her most recent major project was the environmental review process for the Terraces of Lafayette, a proposed development that would place 315 apartments near Acalanes High School and Highway 24.

Another staffer is now handling that project. After more than four decades in city planning, Merideth, 64, is retiring -- her last day is today.

"I'm going to miss her terribly. She's kind of the power behind the scenes. She's got her fingerprints on every major good thing that has happened in Lafayette in the last 12 years," said City Manager Steve Falk.

Merideth came to the city in 2001 from Vallejo, where she managed large projects including the Marine World planning process. She also helped shepherd the reuse of Mare Island and the waterfront.

In 2001, Merideth was hired as Lafayette's community development director and began managing the planning, public works and engineering departments. The move, she said, was prompted by an interest to "do something different." But while Lafayette and Vallejo vary in scale and economic conditions, Merideth found they shared a lot in common.

"People care about their neighborhoods. People care about what's going on in their community. Those things are the same everywhere," she said.

In the wake of Merideth's retirement, the city is eliminating that special project manager title and backfilling it with a senior planning position. They have also promoted other planners and hired an intern to fill hours. The moves will save the city about $60,000 a year, Falk said.

"I'm not going to lie. It's going to be a challenge for us because we're losing 40 years of experience in the public sector," he said.