By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The Town Council liked Town Manager Gayle Corrigan’s plan to consolidate parks and recreation, senior and human services and drug abuse counseling into one department. It was less enthusiastic about adding an additional employee to an area that is already considered well-run and during a time of budget constraints.
The new consolidated department – which was approved by the council in a 4-0 vote (President Sue Cienki arrived after the discussion) – will be overseen by longtime Parks & Rec Director Cathy Bradley. Her job used to include human and senior services until additional staff was hired and a separate department established 11 years ago.
The restructuring comes after the departure of Senior and Human Services Director Erin McAndrew two weeks ago.
“We interviewed six people and realized quickly that none of them could take over all of Erin’s job,” Corrigan told the council. The job, she said, was 80 percent senior services and 20 percent human services.
Corrigan’s solution was to divide up the position, which led to the overall restructuring. In place of McAndrew, there would be a manager of senior services and a community resources manager.
“The extra position is community resource manager – the focal point for human services, could apply for grants, expand the reach of what we have,” she said.
Councilman Mark Schwager questioned the addition of the community services manager.
“My biggest concern now is adding another full-time position,” he said.
Councilman Nino Granatiero said he agreed with Schwager.
“I would recommend that we move ahead with the restructuring and put that one in the parking lot – think about that one some more,” said Nino Granatiero of the community resource manager position.
Part of the restructuring plan has substance abuse coordinator Bob Houghtaling reporting to Bradley – previously he’s reported to the town manager. Additionally, the plan calls for a recreation manager who would also report to Bradley. The Parks & Rec Department currently has a clerk position that is vacant, so while the town will need to hire someone to fill that position, that will not require adding a full-time staff member.
Corrigan said she would prefer keeping recreation manager post vacant for now and filling the new community resource position. Councilors remained unconvinced. The Parks & Recreation Department offers extensive year round programming, with expanded offerings in the summer.
In the end, the council’s vote to approve the restructuring did not include the community resource manager position. Charlotte Markey was approved as the new senior services manager. Markey is a special education teacher who has worked as a CNA. The council approved a salary of $50,000 a year for Markey. Cathy Bradley will see a pay increase to $100,000 a year for her expanded job as director of community services and parks.