Published in the August 17, 2016 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — On Monday, the selectmen unanimously accepted the resignation of Department of Public Works Director Andrew Lafferty despite the objections of four DPW employees.
Town Administrator Jim Boudreau said Lafferty will be stepping down as DPW director on September 9 after leading the department for the past two years. He was appointed DPW director by the selectmen in a 2-1 vote in July 2014 after being one of six candidates interviewed for the job. He succeeded former DPW Director Dennis Roy, who retired after 15 years of service to the town in June 2015.
“I want to thank Andrew for his service to the town and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” said Boudreau.
Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford concurred with Boudreau’s sentiment.
“I would like to thank Andrew for his two years of service to the town of Lynnfield,” said Crawford. “I wish him all the best.”
Lafferty came to town with over 12 years of experience in the public works field and 16 years of experience in the civil engineering field.
Prior to coming to Lynnfield, Lafferty served as the deputy director/director of operations for the Department of Public Services in Newburyport. He served as the senior civil engineer in Wakefield for seven years. The U.S. Army veteran also served two 15-month tours of duty in Iraq, where he was the recipient of the Bronze Star.
Lafferty and the DPW were criticized earlier this spring after Lynnfield Little League board members complained about field maintenance issues, particularly at Newhall Park. The controversy began over Memorial Day weekend after parents and Little League board members expressed their displeasure with overgrown field conditions, which they felt were unsafe.
The DPW director told the selectmen this spring the issue resulted from the department modifying its field maintenance schedule in order to prepare for Memorial Day events. The selectmen requested Lafferty to communicate more frequently, particularly with playing groups, to keep people informed about the DPW’s initiatives.
DPW employees react
There were six DPW employees at the selectmen’s meeting, four of whom spoke in support of Lafferty. The four DPW employees urged the selectmen not to accept Lafferty’s resignation.
Nicholas Goodwin, 44 Homestead Rd., said he has enjoyed working with Lafferty in both Lynnfield and Newburyport.
“I have worked with Andrew for five years,” said Goodwin. “Andrew has proven to be respected and well liked by both his employees and residents. He has made many needed changes to our department. I think this decision is irrational and I think the people behind this decision are not really in touch with what we do on a daily basis.”
A 14-year DPW employee said Lafferty made a “huge difference” the past two years, which he attributed in part to the outgoing DPW director improving department morale.
“I think you are making a mistake in accepting his resignation,” said the 14-year DPW veteran.
A member of the DPW’s highway department said Lafferty has been able to purchase more equipment the past two years than Roy did in the previous 15 years.
“I have been here 12 years and he has been a standup guy to all of us,” said the DPW member. “I am really sorry to see him go and I don’t want to see him go.”
Another member of the DPW’s highway department said Lafferty has made a lot of positive changes and improvements the past two years.
“(Lafferty) has done a lot in the short time he has been here,” said the DPW employee. “I want to let everybody know there is a manpower problem and it doesn’t seem to change. Manpower hasn’t changed since 1987. We have 15 DPW guys and we are spread very thin. It’s very hard to get everything accomplished, and I think he is taking the hit for us.”
Crawford thanked the DPW employees for speaking on behalf of Lafferty.
“I appreciate your loyalty,” said Crawford.
Search to begin
Boudreau said the town will begin advertising the DPW position in local newspapers and on the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) website this week.
In response to a question from Selectman Dick Dalton, Boudreau said the deadline to submit resumes will be at the end of August.