Published July 24, 2019
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — A familiar face will be leading the Lynnfield Center Water District this fall.
The Board of Water Commissioners offered the LCWD superintendent position to Lynnfield resident and Melrose DPW Director John Scenna, who officially accepted the job this week. He will succeed retired Superintendent Ken Burnham, who stepped down from the post in January after leading the LCWD for 45 years. Danvers DPW Vernon C. Russell Treatment Plant Manager Jason McCarthy was the other finalist for the position.
Five candidates applied for the job and a search committee led by Water Commissioner Joe Maney recommended that the commissioners interview Scenna and McCarthy for the vacant position. The two public interviews took place last week.
“The two applicants were really different,” said Board of Water Commissioners Chairman Rob Almy in an interview with the Villager. “Jason was very strong on the operations side and John was very strong on the organization and administration side. Given that we have an excellent operations crew and our challenges are administrative, we thought John was the best match for the district at this time.”
Almy said the water commissioners unanimously approved a three-year pact with Scenna on Monday. He said the incoming LCWD superintendent will earn an annual salary of $158,000. In calendar year 2018, Scenna earned $154,772 as head of the Melrose DPW.
Scenna will begin at the LCWD on Sept. 9.
“I am absolutely excited about the opportunity to lead the Lynnfield Center Water District,” said Scenna. “I am looking forward to working collaboratively with the commissioners, staff, residents and others to bring the district forward to new levels.”
Scenna, who lives on Sagamore Road, has worked for Melrose’s DPW for almost 22 years.
“I am ready to start a new chapter in my career,” said Scenna during his public interview.
Scenna has lived in Lynnfield for the past 13 years, and said his family has experienced discolored water issues at their home. The LCWD has attributed iron and manganese to the discolored water problems that have plagued a number of residents who live near the North Reading line.
“I am very familiar with the water issues of quality and quantity,” said Scenna. “In order to solve the problem, the district is going to have to dive into these neighborhoods firsthand. We have to reach out to people and help them understand that we are here to help and are here to solve a problem.”
During his public interview, Scenna highlighted his experience with creating policies and procedures, negotiating contracts, and working with Melrose officials to help set water and sewer rates. He has also worked to upgrade the city’s infrastructure including replacing old water meters with new ones that can be accessed remotely.
Scenna noted during his interview the LCWD is undertaking a water supply study that ratepayers approved at a Special District Meeting last December. He is “open” to either having the district continue providing well water to ratepayers or switching to the MWRA.
“We need the data to drive our decisions,” said Scenna.
Scenna told the water commissioners that he holds himself to “high standards.” He said the LCWD’s employees are doing “a tremendous job,” and said he would work to help them improve as employees and will hold them accountable if they are not doing their jobs.
“I don’t like to coach from the press box,” said Scenna. “I am right there on the sideline and in the trenches. I will be visible and accountable, and I will provide (the employees) with the resources they need to do their jobs.”
Scenna is the second Melrose official to leave the city for Lynnfield in the last year-and-a-half. The Board of Selectmen appointed former Mayor Rob Dolan as town administrator in December 2017. Dolan served as the city’s mayor for 16 years.