No candidate was expected to offer a resume and presence comparable to outgoing Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon, but in his June 7 interview with the Rochester Board of Selectmen, Brian Vasa got the job because he impressed upon the selectmen that he comes in peace.
Asked how he handles violations, the conservation agent for the Town of Plympton told the selectmen that he will first send a letter that says, “Hey, what you are doing is wrong…. People don’t like to be surprised.”
Vasa was one of three candidates interviewed by the Conservation Commission from the pool of applicants, two of which were recommended for a second interview by the Board of Selectmen.
The other finalist, Marilee Kelly, the conservation agent for the Town of Acushnet, demonstrated knowledge of the laws and procedures in her June 7 interview with the selectmen, answering the same question by starting with a personal site visit. “Find out if the person will let you on the property,” she said, referencing further sanctions in the event of a negative outcome such as enforcement orders, fines, and legal counsel.
Both finalists said they were amenable to the parameters of the salary offered for the job.
Another key question was related to solar farms, as the cranberry industry continues to diminish and land becomes available.
“It’s been almost my whole experience in Plympton,” said Vasa, who has been working for the town almost two years. He alluded to what can become a lengthy process involving considerations such as wetlands, stormwater, and the “back and forth” between the commission and the applicant through the continuance of public hearings, peer review, and the like.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Paul Ciaburri told Vasa, “Most people want to see as little change as possible. It’s going to change no matter what.” Selectman Woody Hartley said that Farinon has developed “a great rapport” and was an easy-going communicator whose tactic was to listen and absorb information. “It’s always best to think it out,” Hartley said.
Invited to ask questions of the board, Vasa offered two: job flexibility to be in the town office or to work at home, and how much the position has changed or will change.
Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar told Vasa, “You have the commitment of getting the job done,” expressing that the job itself will determine the answer to that question on any given day. “I don’t think anyone cares if you look at your computer (in the town hall or at home),” added Hartley.
Vasa clarified his question to be if there is policy on the matter.
Szyndlar explained that the new conservation agent will be signing a contract with the Board of Selectmen but working under the direction of the Conservation Commission. “The town is growing…. Show us your skills,” said Hartley.
Vasa said his job in Plympton has been mostly administrative, but he looks forward to working more in the field. “You’re always learning,” he said. “It’s interesting, I enjoy it.”
At the conclusion of both interviews, the selectmen voted to authorize Szyndlar and Town Counsel Blair Bailey to negotiate a contract with Vasa.
Ciaburri met last week with the Plymouth County Advisory Council and reported on a new fund coming to member towns but said that “the record keeping and reporting will be 1,000 times worse than the CARES Act.”
“It’s going to take a lot of heads working together,” said Szyndlar, who added she is trying to gather as much information as possible before presenting to town stakeholders. “Every time I turn around it’s something different.”
Bailey indicated that on June 8 he would send out a demand letter to the company that posted advertisements on town telephone poles. The basis of legal action is trespassing on town property “because they’re putting them on the road layout.”
David Arancio appeared for the first time as the town moderator and thanked those who put him into the position via write-in votes. Arancio succeeds Kirby Gilmore, who decided not to run for re-election. “Like Mr. (Richard) Cutler said many years ago when I joined the ZBA, what usually happens is you join one board, then you’re on another,” said Arancio.
Selectman Brad Morse thanked Michael Conway for his many years of service to the Conservation Commission. Conway did not run for re-election to the Water Commission and has also vacated his seat with ConCom.
Tony Ruocco was reappointed to the Finance Committee, and the selectmen voted to reappoint Ciaburri as the board’s delegate to Plymouth County.
In her Town Administrator’s Report, Szyndlar discussed the full reopening of Town Hall amidst the lifting of restrictions at the state and town levels. She is encouraging the public to follow the guidelines recommending masks for those not vaccinated against COVID-19, to socially distance when possible, and to use the town’s convenient drop-off boxes.
Marion will host a Tri-Town Selectmen’s meeting on July 13 at 7:00 pm.
The date of the Special Town Meeting in the fall has been narrowed down to October 18, October 25, or November 1. The matter will be on the agenda for the next Board of Selectmen meeting scheduled for Monday, June 21, at 6:00 pm.
Rochester Board of Selectmen
By Mick Colageo