By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Three individuals with prominent new roles in town were introduced to the Board of Selectmen Monday night: Chamber of Commerce Director Marianne Cohen, Signage Officer Bob Sardella and Recreation Director Dan McGrath.
Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio described new Wakefield-Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce Director Marianne Cohen as “full of energy” and predicted that with her background in marketing and business development she “will do some great things with the Chamber.”
Cohen said that her immediate goals are to support Chamber members and find out how businesses can support the town as a whole, including the school system and the non-profits. In addition to bringing those elements together, Cohen said she would be looking at ways to increase Chamber membership.
Signage Officer Bob Sardella thanked Maio, Building Inspector Jack Roberto and the board for their confidence in his ability to take on the newly created position. With more than 40 years as a local sign contractor, Sardella said that he would no longer be taking on permitted sign work in the town of Wakefield. At the same time, he said that he welcomed the opportunity to influence and participate in developing the town in ways that he never expected.
Sardella said that he hoped his role as a vice chairman of the Chamber of Commerce would help serve as a bridge to the business community. He also hoped merchants would see him not as “the sign cop” but as a supportive educator in navigating the sign bylaw and permitting process.
Selectman Tiziano Doto acknowledged the town’s desire to bring an improved, uniform look to the downtown areas and noted that enforcement has to this point been lacking.
Chairman Brian Falvey said that Sardella was “the perfect person for the job” of being a guide and an “ambassador” to help merchants improve their signage and the look of their businesses.
Maio said that new Recreation Director Dan McGrath was hired from a field of over 30 applicants for the position. He cited McGrath’s experience as a program coordinator in Reading and an assistant recreation coordinator in Arlington. The Reading native called the job of Wakefield Recreation Director his “dream job” and said that he looked forward to putting together a menu of year-round programs that will have “something for everybody.”
McGrath described his idea for a kind of “basic summer camp program” staffed by local teens and housed in one of the schools that will offer arts and crafts, sports and games and other activities for kids.
Board members described their own memories of recreation programs at neighborhood playgrounds, including swimming areas such as the one that existed for many years at Colonel Connelly Beach and Spaulding Beach on Lake Quannapowitt. McGrath said that he shared their desire to bring back such programs and said that as a kid growing up in Reading he often came to Colonel Connelly Beach to swim.
Board members Paul DiNocco and Ann Santos also stressed the need to reach out to kids who may not be sports-oriented and offer something to get those kids involved.
Finally, the board recognized Bill Boodry who volunteered to step in and help keep the Recreation Department afloat during a period without a director. Maio said that when Boodry learned that the current recreation program would be rudderless, “he volunteered his time and didn’t ask for a nickel.”
Boodry, who served on the Recreation Commission for 17 years and now serves on the Finance Committee and the Lake Quannapowitt Committee, said that he was pleased that the board had decided to invest in recreation.
Board members in turn thanked Boodry for all his help and presented him with a gift certificate as a token of their appreciation.
Maio described a potential solution that could resolve a long-standing disagreement over town-owned land and development off Stark Avenue. Maio asked Town Counsel Thomas Mullen to explain a tentative agreement whereby Elijah Anjim and the town would do a land swap. The town would use its land for conservation and Anjim would get a buildable lot abutting Upland Street. While such a land swap requires special state legislation, Mullen said that he did not anticipate any problems as the town will be getting the better part of the bargain.
In other business this week the Board of Selectmen:
Approved separate requests from Library Director Sharon Gilley to accept and expend gifts of $2,267.77 and $6,224 from various donors.
Opened the warrant and scheduled Nov. 17, 2014 as the date for the Regular Town Meeting with Oct. 10 as the closing date for the warrant.
Approved a request from Phuket Thai Restaurant for an entertainment license to allow a television.
Approved a request from Meletharb Ice Cream for a Common Victualler’s License.