Published in the September 14, 2016 edition
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD — Town Engineer Charlie Richter, P.E., was appointed the interim Director of the Department of Public Works by the Board of Selectmen Monday night.
The appointment was unanimous and will remain in effect until a successor to former DPW Director Andrew Lafferty is hired. Lafferty resigned from the post effective Sept. 9.
“We started interviewing for (Lafferty’s) replacement. It is an ongoing process,” commented Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford at the meeting. Crawford recommended to his fellow board members that Richter be appointed as the interim director, noting he had served in that role during the last DPW Director search two years ago.
Selectmen Chris Barrett and Dick Dalton agreed.
“We hope to have a candidate by our next meeting and we will continue that process,” Crawford said.
Patricia Campbell of Patrice Lane asked the board to “do some thorough vetting of the person you appoint. Talk to the town manager that they’re coming from, talk to citizens, talk to people that work for the DPW Director.”
Crawford assured Campbell that they are in the process of conducting the type of vetting she described.
After the initial review of the candidates was conducted by Town Administrator Jim Boudreau, finalists were recommended to the board members. Each selectman conducts private one-on-one interviews with the finalists prior to discussing their top choices at an open board meeting. If a majority agrees on a candidate, they will vote to make the appointment subject to a contract agreement being successfully negotiated between the town and the candidate.
During the public comment period at Monday night’s meeting, Campbell raised concern over an ongoing hazard caused by trees overhanging from the Pump ’n Pantry property (Lynnfield Mobil) at the corner of 793 Main St. and Patrice Lane.
Campbell said that at the end of July “for the second time” trees had fallen onto Patrice Lane from this private property.
“The first time was at night and luckily my neighbor avoided being hit by another branch of the same tree and parked her car at the Pump ’n Pantry and walked over the tree to get home,” she said. The more recent incident had not blocked the entire street, Campbell said, but branches fell into the street and onto the sidewalk.
After that incident, Campbell said she met with DPW Director Andrew Lafferty prior to his departure to discuss it. Lafferty subsequently wrote a letter dated Aug. 1 alerting the property owners that the DPW had noticed the hazard and recommended the immediate removal of the trees by a tree removal company or a certified arborist.
“The hazard tree(s) could potentially impact Patrice Lane, causing property damage or loss of life,” Lafferty wrote, in part. He also requested that the property owner inform the DPW “of your intent.”
Campbell noted that six weeks has passed since that letter was issued to the property owners and the hazard remains precariously in place.
She said that a young child lives in the apartment above the store and she has seen him waiting for his school bus in the vicinity of these hazardous trees. Campbell has warned one bus driver as well as the young mothers who walk around the Patrice Lane cul de sac with their preschoolers about the situation. “I can’t warn everybody that comes up the street,” she said.
“There is a branch that goes over the public way that is obviously rotted,” she said. “It is an ongoing serious hazard.” She believes the town would be allowed to cut the portion of the branch that goes over the public way.
Campbell requested the town to act quickly, before the next storm hits “and we end up being sued because the town has been notified” of the hazard. She added another neighbor made a public records request on Monday at the DPW office to find out the progress of getting this hazard resolved.
“I was told by our former DPW Director that similar situations exist in 30 locations in town,” she said.
Crawford thanked Campbell for her input and acknowledged that the town had received the complaint from another resident that she had referenced on Monday about these trees. “We’ll have it looked at,” he assured her.