Hatfield Select Board member Moriarty, town clerk Szych opt against reelection


Staff Writer

Published: 02-03-2023 3:52 PM

HATFIELD — Renovations to Memorial Town Hall, the conversion of the former Center School into condominiums and the ongoing work to extend water and sewer lines along Route 5 are among projects Select Board member Brian Moriarty has championed.

As he completes his ninth year on the board, Moriarty is opting not to seek reelection to the panel, bringing to a close his service on the town’s elected boards that began with the School Committee after coming to Hatfield from Holyoke in 1999.

“My goal has always been to serve the public with integrity,” Moriarty said in a phone interview Friday.

Moriarty said he appreciates that decisions are made as a team effort with current board members, Chairwoman Diana Szynal and Ed Jaworski.

“We don’t always agree, but we always seem to come to a conclusion that is never personal, and we’re trying to do what’s best for the town as a whole,” Moriarty said.

With nomination forms recently being made available for the May 16 town election, Moriarty is one of two long-serving officials departing public service. The other bowing out is Lydia Szych, the elected town clerk for the past decade.

Moriarty was first elected to the Select Board in 2014, while still serving on the School Committee, where he helped found the instrumental music program at Smith Academy and was a driving force for adopting school choice. Joining the Select Board, he said, was another way to be an advocate for education funding, as well as to offer input on other topics from his professional experience on the engineering side of telecommunications.

The advocacy for infrastructure improvements on Route 5 began when Moriarty was on a board with Ed Lesko and Jeff Boyle. That led to the initial $2 million MassWorks infrastructure grant that, when the project is complete, will help existing residents and businesses and should encourage economic development and growth in the commercial tax base.

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“A lot of time and effort went into that,” Moriarty said, recalling meeting with state officials in Boston and Springfield and having conversations with then Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Rep. Peter Kocot.

At Town Hall, the second phase of improvements has included installation of an elevator, a ramp at the rear and an upgraded the Council on Aging facility for the town’s senior citizens.

The Center School was saved after Town Meeting earlier recommended its demolition.

“I felt, with the Hatfield Redevelopment Authority and myself, let’s give it one more shot,” Moriarty said. “Being part of the renovation of those condos was kind of a big deal.”

Also during his time on the board, Marlene Michonski was brought back as town administrator, the board hired Police Chief Michael Dekoschak, Fire Chief Robert Flaherty and Building Inspector Kyle Scott, and revamped the financial team at a time when the town was in a precarious financial position, outsourcing the accounting service and, following Town Meeting approval, combining and then appointing the treasurer and collector.

Moriarty said he feels like he was pro business throughout the pandemic, waiving fees and streamlining permitting so that struggling restaurants, bars and other enterprises could survive.

While Moriarty, 62, said he is not retiring professionally, leaving town service will allow him more time to visit his new 4-month-old granddaughter, Olivia, known throughout Hatfield as Princess Livi.

“There was no particular reason,” Moriarty said of his decision. “It just seemed to be a good time.”

Town clerk to depart

Meanwhile, Szych said she is stepping aside, after winning three full terms, and wanted to give time for others who might be interested to consider running.

At its basic function, the town clerk can direct residents to the information they need, she said. “If you don’t know where to go or who to ask, you go to the town clerk,” Szych said.

Szych said her formal responsibilities are numerous, include issuing, certifying and maintaining vital records, maintaining the voter registration database, overseeing elections and fulfilling and tracking all public record requests. She also conducts the annual census, maintains records of elected officials, boards and committees, as well as swearing them in, posts all meetings and employment opportunities and issues dog licenses, marriage licenses and business certificates.

In addition, Szych aids the community with genealogy research, holds and records Town Meeting records with the moderator and files reports related to Town Meeting and elections.

Other positions

Following are the other positions that will be on the ballot, and the incumbents:

School Committee, three years, Rebecca Bench, Depot Road, and Christy L. Boudreau, Main Street; Planning Board, five years, John Bacon Jeffress V, Bridge Street; Board of Assessors, three years, James Allen LaVallee, North Hatfield Road; Cemetery Commission, three years, Jonathan W. Bardwell, Main Street; Board of Health, three years, Elizabeth Jane Kugler, Porter Avenue; Library trustee, Kathleen Sheehan, Chestnut Street; Housing Authority, five years, Michael W. Hogan; Redevelopment Authority, five years, Christopher Smith, Prospect Street; and moderator, three years, Joseph A. LaVallee Sr., Main Street.

There is also an open one year position as elector under the Oliver Smith Will.

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