Hadley Conservation Commission regroups after fallout

  • Hadley Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writes
Published: 8/19/2021 3:45:08 PM

HADLEY — Hadley’s Conservation Commission, short-handed after its chairwoman was not reappointed by the Select Board and two commissioners resigned in protest, is back to a full complement of members.

While the Select Board Wednesday voted unanimously to appoint Raymond Mieczkowski of Comins Road to serve on the commission, the now five-member panel continues to face challenges after longtime conservation agent Janice Stone left the position at the end of July.

Stone’s resignation came in response to the Select Board’s decision not to put Paulette Kuzdeba back on the commission as its chairwoman.

Town Administrator Carolyn Brennan told the Select Board that she recently met with a person who could do clerical work for the Conservation Commission, such as taking applications, posting meetings and compiling minutes. The person could also support other boards, like the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, with similar activities, she said. Brennan observed that almost every department is behind on compiling minutes.

At an earlier Finance Committee meeting, Brennan said that finding a replacement for Stone, whom she describes as one of the best conservation agents in the state, would be a challenge.

“To fill that position is extremely difficult,” Brennan said.

She also said Stone was only being paid $20 per hour for 10 hours per month.

Kuzdeba filed an Open Meeting Law complaint last month, alleging that board members discussed her removal and reducing the size of the Conservation Commission outside a posted meetings. Kuzdeba has also sought to get back on the commission.

Jeffrey Blake, an attorney with KP Law, told the board Aug. 4 that there is no weight to the contents of Kuzdeba’s complaint.

“In my opinion, a lot of those allegations are not part of the Open Meeting Law,” Blake said.

The commission intends to operate as a five-member board once Mieczkowski joins it.

Mieczkowski, a lifelong Hadley resident, is a lead project manager for Verizon Communications, handling engineering of fiber cable builds to all of the wireless carriers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. He previously served on the town’s Sewer Commission from 1997 to 2000.

Others who applied to serve on the commission were Joseph Boisvert of Mount Warner Road, David Boivin of Aqua Vitae Road, Edward Fedor, also of Aqua Vitae Road, and Andrew Gnatek of Norwottuck Drive.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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