Select Board Readies for Crane’s Departure

LONGMEADOW, MA – Updating the Select Board on his status with the town at the Select Board’s meeting on May 20, Stephen Crane said he expected to submit his formal resignation in the near future.

Crane said he had been in regular communication with the town of Concord since that municipality announced he was selected as its new town manager on April 30. Before officially joining the town of Concord, Crane was subject to a background review and was engaging in contract negotiations. Crane reiterated at the meeting that his resignation would require 45 days notice.

Regarding the search for his replacement, Crane said he reached out to Municipal Resources Inc. as well as Community Paradigm Associates as potential consultants to aid in the process. He suggested Community Paradigm Associates was the better option for the board’s needs, noting that while the town had previously worked with both firms, Municipal Resources Inc. did not have experience working with Longmeadow at the Select Board and Town Manager level.

Selectman Marie Angelides suggested creating a subcommittee and Select Board Chair Mark Gold also noted the town had a citizen’s committee during the previous search process that ultimately resulted in Crane’s hiring. The subcommittee and the citizens’ committee, working with the consultant, would provide the “first cut” in reviewing resumes, Gold said.

Angelides and Selectman Thomas Lachiusa were appointed to the subcommittee and charged with identifying the criteria for hiring a consultant. Selectman Richard Foster said he would like to see proposals from the potential consultants for the board’s next meeting. Foster stressed he wanted to get the search process moving forward as quickly as possible.

“Once you accept, you have 45 days. I’d like to see this process fully mature and us vetting before you leave here,” he told Crane.

Crane said that timeline was not realistic.

“Because I’ve obviously gone through this, the expectations of process timeline, Richard, it’s six months, end to end,” he told Foster. “From when the ad goes in to the time you sign the contract, it’s about six months.”

Crane agreed with Foster that the town should get to work as soon as possible, but suggested rushing the process to gain an extra two weeks was not in the town’s best interest. Explaining the process, Crane said the town would advertise the position and accept applications for a month or more. After the application period would end, most communities utilize a citizens’ search committee, at times with the assistance of a consultant, to review the resumes and create a shortlist of candidates for the Select Board. If the board were to use a search firm, it would have to release a Request for Qualifications and most likely interview applicants as well.

The board also voted against a petition for a series of five new utility poles on Meadowbrook Road near Warren Terrace, including new poles in front of the property of homeowners.

Paul Reisinger of Verizon New England told the board at the public hearing the company had received complaints of poles beginning to rot and lean because of their positioning. Because of these concerns regarding access, Verizon wished to move the poles to the front of the property near the road in order to ensure better maintenance.

James Shriver, a resident of Meadowbrook Road, spoke against the petition.

“We’ve lived there 14 years,” he said. “One of the reasons we live there is there are no poles on the street.”

Shriver called the plan “a stupid thing to do” and “ridiculous” and questioned the use of overhead utilities in general. As a former candidate of the East Longmeadow Planning Board, he said that town ceased the use of poles for overhead utilities several decades ago. He acknowledged an existing pole behind his house and its wires are located in a wet and wooded area, which requires additional work, but he insisted he did not wish to see new poles in front of his home.

“I firmly believe that putting poles up on Meadowbrook Road will reduce the value of my house,” he said.

Gold said he walked the area that day and he understood the issues with achieving adequate access for replacing and maintaining poles. He noted that Verizon’s petition stated one of the reasons for the placement of the poles was the prevent trespass and questioned if Verizon had easements for the existing poles. He suggested that if not, Verizon should apply for easements as opposed to placing poles in their petitioned locations. He also asked if there was a possibility of burying the lines instead of installing poles, foreseeing the possibility that Eversource or another utility may seek to utilize those poles as well in the future.

Reisinger said he would have to research what it would take to bury the lines, including talking to the company’s right of way manager.

Lachiusa questioned whether residents would even need the communication lines proposed in 5 to 10 years and was skeptical about the need to place new poles.

Selectman Bill Low added, “I can’t stand more poles and wires. The only times I’ve voted for them is when there’s a hardship and there’s no other way to do it.”

Selectman Marie Angelides said the town would be “moving backwards” if they supported the petition.