LYNNFIELD — The Select Board voted 2-1 to appoint former Select Board member Joe Connell to the Recreation Commission during a May 20 meeting.

Connell, who lost his bid for a second three-year term to Select Board member Alexis Leahy during the Town Election last month, succeeds longtime Recreation Commission member Frank Morelli.

“Please extend my gratitude to the other board members, the Select Board and the town administrator,” Morelli wrote in his resignation email to Recreation Commission Chair Mike Cuddy. “It’s been an honor and a pleasure to work with them over these many years and to help build the commission into what it has become.”

Connell, whose wife Catherine was appointed to the Recreation Commission earlier this year, recalled that he previously served as the Select Board’s liaison to the panel.

“I attended every meeting,” said Connell. “Mike Cuddy, who is the chair, is absolutely first-class. He is getting things done and is a remarkable person. New Recreation Director Jimmy Olsen’s plan and vision is to bring the 280 programs he had up in Amesbury here. He is going to develop more activities for our seniors, which should have happened in the past. He is going to do great things.”

Connell said he is incredibly impressed with the Recreation Commission’s members.

“The Recreation Commission is in remarkable shape,” said Connell. “They have dedicated people who are committed to getting things done.”

Connell said he developed a maintenance plan for Lynnfield High School’s athletic complex two years ago. He recalled that new fencing, netting and pads were installed at Pioneer Stadium last year.

“Mike Cuddy is looking for a guy now who can work with Capital Projects Manager John Scenna to make sure we address some of the issues at Fields 2 and 3,” said Connell. “But more importantly, the biggest project that will be coming up is the Field 1 (Pioneer Stadium) replacement. I think I would be the perfect person to make sure Field 1 gets done on time and done correctly.”

Connell said he understands what the Recreation Commission “wants to get done.”   

“These fields look new to most people, but they have been around for almost 10 years,” said Connell. “We are now at the point where Field 1 has to get replaced. I would like to have a five-year plan for all of the fields developed. That is why I think I would be a good fit on the committee.”

Select Board member Phil Crawford said he and Connell worked together to address the LHS athletic complex’s maintenance issues the past couple of years.

“The first thing was putting the fields in, and now we have to maintain them,” said Crawford. “But there is also the rest of Rec that we have to take care of. It’s not just the fields at the high school. It’s also all of the programming and the other fields we have in town. Those have to be kept up. It has really come along the last couple of years, and it is nice to see the maintenance being done.”

Connell said maintaining the town’s athletic facilities is a huge “passion” for him.

“I love having the best facilities for the kids in town,” said Connell.

Select Board Chair Dick Dalton said Connell is “very passionate” about the town’s recreation and sports programs.

In response to a question from Crawford, Dalton said Cuddy sent an email to the Select Board that recommended Connell’s appointment.

“That means a lot that the current chair would like to see you on that board,” said Crawford. “I know you guys work well together. I want to thank you for stepping forward.”

Select Board member Alexis Leahy asked Connell what programs he wants Lynnfield Recreation to offer that are not currently being offered.

“Right now, we have a lot of things for the younger kids in town,” said Connell. “We have the best sports facilities, and I know Jimmy Olsen is looking to develop new programs for seniors.”

Atherton Circle resident Crystal Lavino was also interviewed to serve on the Recreation Commission. She said she has served on “many PTO boards” and is the current president of the Huckleberry Hill School PTO. She also serves on the Lynnfield Middle School Council and previously served on the Tower Day Parents’ Forum.

“I have two daughters who are in third grade and fifth grade at Huckleberry Hill School and Lynnfield Middle School,” said Lavino. “I just wanted to be part of the community, and said I would help out with a Halloween craft. I am now the current PTO president serving my third year at Huckleberry Hill School. It escalated pretty quickly.”


Lavino also said she has been a cheer coach for Lynnfield Pioneer Youth Football and Cheer for five years.

“I am now in my almost fourth year as the program director,” said Lavino. “We have seen that program grow from kindergarten up to eighth grade. There are now 150 cheerleaders, which puts me on the fields a lot.”

Lavino also said she owns a salon, Très Belle Beauty Bar, in town and has been a small business owner for 15 years.

“I would love to be on the Rec Commission just so I could offer my insight from being involved with the schools, the youth programs and having kids in town,” said Lavino. “We use the Rec programs a lot throughout the summer and all of the after-school programs.”

Dalton said Lavino’s volunteer experience in town is “quite extensive.”

Crawford said Lavino has followed “the path most of us have done by getting involved” with her children’s schools and activities.

“That’s great,” said Crawford. “The old saying is, ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person.’ You are a great example of that. I want to thank you for stepping forward.”

Leahy asked Lavino what programs she wants Lynnfield Recreation to offer that are not currently being offered.

Lavino said she would like Lynnfield Recreation to develop a “main calendar” that would outline the different programs happening in town.

“With planning and programs, there always seems to be collisions,” said Lavino. “That is going to unavoidable when there are so many things going on in town. I don’t know if it would a Rec thing or something different, but I would love to see an actual calendar that would allow people to see the different things going on whether it’s Rec programming or town sports, which all seem to connect in one way or another.”

Lavino also said she wants Lynnfield Recreation to expand programs to “all demographics and ages.”

“I want to make sure everybody feels invited to the table,” said Lavino.

After Connell and Lavino concluded their respective interviews, Dalton proposed that Connell be appointed to the Recreation Commission and Lavino be appointed as “first alternate.”

“I am going to vote for Joe Connell, but I would like Crystal Lavino to be named first alternate because she has such an outstanding resume,” said Dalton. “I would like her to be part of the process. I think that would strengthen the committee even more.”

Crawford asked how the first alternate position would work.

“We have had a few situations where we have done first alternates,” said Dalton. “They are not voting members, but they participate in the meetings and have input. What typically happens is when someone leaves that particular committee, they for the most part always assume that position.”

Crawford said Dalton’s proposal was a “good solution.”

“I think Crystal is a great candidate,” said Crawford. “I would like to see Joe on there now because he is very much involved in it and can hit the ground running. I would like to see Crystal part of it too.”

Leahy said Connell and Lavino bring “very different qualifications to the table.”

“I like Joe’s experience with the fields, maintaining some of the prior projects and having the relationships that were already built there,” said Leahy. “I like what Crystal is bringing to the table because she is very close to the ground as to what is happening with the current programming that is being offered and understanding the inter-workings of that. Having to manage that is no joke and as an individual on the other side of it, getting the information is critical. I think the first alternate is a good idea, but I would personally be leaning a little more towards Crystal because she is close to the ground with what is occurring in sports and Rec’s programming.”

Crawford made a motion to nominate Connell to the Recreation Commission, which was seconded by Dalton. Crawford and Dalton voted to appoint Connell to the Recreation Commission, and Leahy voted no. Connell’s term will expire on June 30, 2027.

“Congratulations Joe,” said Dalton.

After Lavino said she would be “honored” to serve as the first alternate on the Recreation Commission, the Select Board unanimously approved her appointment.

“Congratulations Crystal,” said Dalton.