Southampton Select Board selects a new town administrator

Southampton Town Hall

Southampton Town Hall

By MADDIE FABIAN

Staff Writer

Published: 01-23-2024 9:51 AM

Modified: 01-23-2024 10:25 AM


SOUTHAMPTON — Over the years, Scott Szczebak has hung a painting that overlooks Southampton, Easthampton, Northampton and the Oxbow in his office. That painting will soon have a new home in Southampton’s Town Hall, where next month Szczebak will step into the role of town administrator.

“It’s a picturesque community,” Szczebak said. “I’m looking forward to joining their team and working with all the elected officials, employees and volunteers.”

After a four-month search led by the consulting firm Community Paradigm Associates, the Select Board offered the job to Szczebak last week.

“It was a very difficult choice; we had two very qualified candidates,” Select Board Chair Christine Fowles said.

The other candidate, Ryan McNutt was most recently a town manager in Palmer.

“[McNutt] probably has more in terms of actual experience as a town manager, but overall just trying to see what fits well with the personnel and the town of Southampton, we just thought that [Szczebak] was a better fit for us,” Fowles said.

Szczebak has an 18-year history in municipal government, having most recently worked as personnel director in the city of Lawrence, and prior to that working as human resources director in Wellesley and Chicopee.

“I like to be inclusive, and I like to be able to get input from all the stakeholders,” Szczebak said. “Communication is something I always focus on, building a consensus.”

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Fowles said the Select Board chose Szczebak for his “organized and professional demeanor” and approachability, among other reasons.

“Given his HR background, he is on that side of being able to be a team builder, and bring people along in different projects… He sort of presented himself as an out-of-the-box thinker, very analytical and yet very people-oriented.”

Szczebak holds a law degree from Western New England College, along with a political science degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Born in Chicopee, he currently lives in Palmer.

“People love Southampton and they live there for a reason,” he said. “We want to continue all the great services that Southampton has to offer.”

He said some top priorities as he enters the role, based on various reports and the website, include public safety, responsible development, maintaining the character of the town, recruiting and retaining town employees, broadband internet, taxes and financial items.

Szczebak will take over for Ed Gibson, who announced his retirement last spring after five years as town administrator.

Formerly mayor of West Springfield, Gibson took the position in 2018. Since then, he has been involved in replacing East Street Bridge, purchasing the right-of-way for the Southampton Greenway bike trail, approving two operating budget overrides and working with the water department on replacing the water main along Route 10.

The Select Board is working on finalizing the contract with Szczebak. He is expected to begin sometime in February, overlapping with Gibson’s final days.

“It’s an exciting position,” Szczebak said. “There’s new challenges every day… and I want to do my best for all the citizens, employees and officials.”

Maddie Fabian can be reached at mfabian@gazettenet.com.