Northampton’s city planner a finalist for PVPC director job

  • Northampton City Planner Wayne Feiden, center, selects some refreshments during a gathering to celebrate the Amber Lane Public Parklet in Northampton, June 7, 2017. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Published: 6/13/2019 8:39:51 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Northampton City Planner Wayne Feiden is one of two finalists to become the next executive director for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

Feiden, 61, who has worked for Northampton for 31 years and under four mayors, said Thursday that leading PVPC would be an exciting opportunity to continue the planning work the organization does.

“PVPC is one of the best planning agencies in the state,” Feiden said.

PVPC is also considering Kimberly Robinson, executive director of the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency in Reno, Nevada, for the position being vacated by Tim Brennan, who has led the organization since 1981 and announced in February that he would be leaving the agency.

The Springfield-based agency will announce its final decision for executive director this month, according to an announcement sent out by PVPC. A representative from each of the 43 cities and towns of Hampshire and Hampden Counties will cast a vote for executive director on June 27.

Feiden and Robinson were chosen as finalists for the role after two rounds of interviews, according to PVPC. A six-member search committee has overseen the process.

The new director will likely start in the role by mid-September, according to PVPC, following contract negotiations.

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz said Feiden has had a long and distinguished career in the city and that it would be tough to see him leave if he is selected for the position.

“Wayne’s really been an invaluable part of my administration and I would argue many administrations,” Narkewicz said. “He’s really been a visionary who has made a lot of progress in land use, planning and sustainability and the rail trail system.”

Narkewicz also credits Feiden with securing numerous grants, including for open space and land preservation projects.

Feiden said Northampton and the regional planning agency have built a close relationship for many years, including on the launch of the ValleyBike program, for which Northampton is the lead city.

During his tenure in the city, the past 21 years of which as director of planning, Feiden said there has been a focus on multi-modal transportation and making sure that options for getting around are good for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as vehicles.

Northampton also took the lead on a $2 million public health grant which led to a plan for various improvements to Main Street.

A significant focus of Feiden’s time has been on the protection of land throughout the city, as well as how to support affordable housing.

He also coordinated the Sustainable Northampton effort to make the city a leader in greenhouse gas reductions and climate resiliency.

With planning and implementation closely linked in the city, Feiden said his goal is always to get projects done rather than having plans sit on a shelf.

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is a public sector agency for the 43 communities in Hampshire and Hampshire counties, “responsible for increasing communication, cooperation, and coordination” in government, private business and civic sectors, according to the organization’s website.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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