Hadley town administrator seeking land-use coordinator position

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 03-21-2023 9:34 AM

HADLEY — Before some building projects and other developments can get underway in Hadley, approval from the Conservation Commission and oversight by the town’s conservation agent is needed.

But without a full-time person in the conservation agent role, there are periodic frustrations for contractors and residents as their projects may be held up, Town Administrator Carolyn Brennan said.

“Right now conservation is very, very difficult,” Brennan told the Select Board at its March 15 meeting. “We have builders who can’t move forward because phones aren’t being answered and emails aren’t being returned.”

Brennan and Treasurer Linda Sanderson have developed what they are calling a land-use coordinator position, an employee whose job would be to help with anything impacted in some way by how land is used in town.

The position would start this spring and then expand in the new fiscal year starting July 1.

“We feel there is money in the budget,” Brennan said.

Under the plan, the land-use coordinator would assist the Conservation Commission, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Community Preservation Act Committee. All have some responsibility for how land is used, protected and developed, Brennan said.

“That position would be critical in keeping communications together, and to help out in all of those departments,” Brennan said.

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The coordinator would take and write minutes of meetings, help to set agendas, do research and prepare boards for a succession plan for when there is turnover in membership.

While it would be a full-time position, Brennan said there could be some savings, including by reducing legal fees from the periodic need to consult with the town attorney.

The position would possibly initially be filled by Kayla Loubriel, the new conservation agent, who is taking over the 17-hour per week job from Shyla Davis, who left after about 18 months in the role.

Loubriel, who earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental and urban studies at Wesleyan University and also brings several years of experience working in environmental education, was recommended for that position by Human Resources Director Jen Lovato and appointed by the Select Board.

Select Board member Randy Izer cautioned that adding more work may be too much for the conservation agent, whose work in that area has to be a priority.

Brennan said conservation work would remain the focus, but that some weeks the conservation agent didn’t have sufficient work.

Whatever stress can be removed from other town employees is a positive, Brennan said, as a majority are feeling overworked and overwhelmed.

LaSage resigns

In other staffing news, Greg LaSage, the director of the Hadley Park & Recreation department, submitted his resignation letter.

Select Board Chairwoman Jane Nevinsmith said LaSage did an amazing job of building up and creating enthusiasm for programs.

Lovato said even before advertising for the vacancy, she has heard from people interested in the job.

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