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SOUTHWICK — The Select Board recently acknowledged that its experiment to have one director for the Council on Aging and the Parks and Recreation Commission really didn’t work.

“The current experiment didn’t work out as well as anyone had hoped,” said Select Board Chair Douglas Moglin on Jan. 29, as he opened a discussion on restructuring the Parks and Recreation Commission in the wake of its former director leaving and taking the Senior Center director position in Agawam.

In 2021, the town decided to have Cindy Sullivan direct operations for both the parks and the Council on Aging, calling it a pilot program.

Prior to that, she was only working for the Council on Aging, and when she announced she was moving to Agawam, she said part of the reason was the difficulty in having to balance her time between the two departments.

Moglin said the thinking in 2021 was that having one person in both positions would save the town money.

With Sullivan gone, her former assistant, Cara Cartello, was named the acting director for both departments. Later in the meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart said Cartello was doing a good job in both roles. But Moglin said it’s time to decide whether the combined position should be continued.

“We need to figure out budget-wise and monetarily how we’re going to get a department head to lead the Parks and Recreation Department,” Moglin said, adding that the town needs to change course.

He also brought up staffing for the summer help and where they report, which he said was an issue last year, and who would be responsible for town recreational areas like Whalley Park.

“If we had a Park and Rec director, it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to put the folks that are maintaining Whalley Park under the direction of the Parks and Rec director,” he said.

Board member Jason Perron, who said he had requested the issue be added to the board’s agenda, acknowledged the “experiment didn’t work out very well.”

Board member Diane Gale asked if the experiment failed because of the people involved or the function of the position.

“It was a little bit of both,” Moglin answered.

He said it was partly the personalities involved, the structure of Parks and Recreation, and sharing resources between the two departments.

“There were several different things that were wrong,” he said, adding that if the personalities would have been different, he didn’t think there would have been a different outcome.

Gale also said that because people have been moved since Sullivan left, she thought some salary adjustments were needed as responsibilities had changed. It was agreed that as the fiscal 2025 budget is being developed, decisions about how to proceed would be made.

In other board business, two candidates were interviewed for an open position on the Planning Board.

Gene Kube and former School Committee member Diane Juzba fielded a series of questions from the Select Board and several members of the Planning Board who were in attendance.

When done, Juzba was chosen, but Moglin stressed to Kube that the town continues to residents to serve on the various boards, committees, and commissions.

Finding a police chief to replace current Chief Robert Landis was briefly discussed. The town will accept applications from internal candidates through Feb. 14.

Moglin updated his colleagues on the progress of the High Speed Internet Committee.

Two subcommittees had been formed to work out the details of an intermunicipal agreement that will need to be negotiated between the town and Whip City Fiber to build the network.

Stinehart said all the bonds required had been filed and details forwarded to Whip City Fiber, which is a subsidiary of Westfield Gas & Electric.

Gale noted the town’s webpage was updated with the information potential marijuana retailers need to know, which is required by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission.

She said she is still waiting on the town attorney to respond to her draft of questions the board will pose to potential retailers seeking a host community agreement that would lead to eventually opening a dispensary in town.

Perron has been working for several months to secure a grant from internet and cell service provider T-Mobile. The company offers grants of up to $50,000 for projects that meet their criteria.

Perron is hoping to use the grant to pay for a sun sail shade that would be installed at the playground at Whalley Park.

The board also made a list of priorities to be sent to Anne Gobi, a former state senator who was named by Gov. Maura Healey to the newly created position of Director of Rural Affairs in the Executive Office of Economic Development.

The priorities agreed upon were roads and infrastructure, rural school funding and transportation, housing production and affordability, and aging in place.

cclark@thereminder.com | + posts