Neighboring communities run concurrent town manager searches

By Chris Maza
Longmeadow News

LONGMEADOW – As the final days of Town Manager Stephen Crane’s tenure tick down, the effort to find his replacement is ramping up.

East Longmeadow Town Manager Denise Menard (Reminder Publishing file photo)

At the same time, neighboring East Longmeadow is preparing for its own town manager search after Denise Menard unexpectedly announced her retirement, effective Aug. 15. However, Select Board Chair Marie Angelides doesn’t foresee any issues with overlap or complications arising from dueling town manager searches.

“I don’t think so because we are towns with two different types of government – Town Meeting, which we have, versus their Town Council government,” she said. Angelides said the simultaneous changes at the chief executive level provide a potential avenue through which the communities could build upon collaborative efforts that have become more prevalent. “I see this as an opportunity for more communication,” she said. Angelides also noted that Longmeadow is already well into the process compared to East Longmeadow. Crane was conditionally offered the town manager’s position by the town of Concord on April 30 and negotiations began shortly thereafter. He officially tendered his resignation on June 6 with an effective date of Aug. 11, meeting the required 45-day notice stipulated in his contract. Conversely, the East Longmeadow Town Council just accepted Menard’s retirement on July 24.

Former Town Manager Stephen Crane talks with Select Board Chair Marie Angelides and Robin Frechette, legislative aide to state Rep. Brian Ashe. (Longmeadow News file photo)

Longmeadow’s Town Manager Search Committee has been established and has been meeting with Bernie Lynch, principal of Community Paradigm Associates, as a strong number of applications have flowed in, according to Angelides.

“We know Bernie and Community Paradigm Associates quite well and he is familiar with the town through other facilitation work he has done for us,” Angelides said.

Applications will be accepted through Aug. 16 and an initial round of interviews is expected to take place by the end of the month in hopes that a group of three to four finalists will be presented to the Select Board by September.

Crane, currently out of the office on vacation, is technically still under contract with Longmeadow until Aug. 11, but in the meantime, Jay Moynahan has been selected as the acting town manager while the search for a permanent replacement is conducted.

“We interviewed three fabulous candidates [for the acting town manager position],” Angelides said. “Jay has years of experience, has won awards for his work in municipal government, and knows Western Massachusetts. What stood out the most, however, is the fact that he has dealt with large construction projects and capped landfills, which are our three main priorities right now.”

The projects to which Angelides referred are the new Adult Center, for which site work has begun, the new Department of Public Works facility, the foundation for which was recently installed, and the town’s landfill, which must be capped by October.

“Jay’s skill set fits perfectly with what we needed,” Angelides added.

East Longmeadow is essentially in the situation Longmeadow was in approximately six years ago when the Select Board hired Crane – attempting to replace their town’s first town manager. East Longmeadow residents approved a charter change from a Town Meeting/Board of Selectmen form of government with a town administrator to its current Town Council/town manager system three years ago. Menard was hired as the acting town manager before being selected for the full-time position in December 2016.

“I think as this goes on, there could be the opportunity to discuss with them the difficulties we’ve had and share our experiences with them,” Angelides said.