HARWICH — In a surprise announcement, Town Administrator Christopher Clark appointed Assistant Town Administrator Charleen Greenhalgh as the new town planner, leaving her former position vacant.
The announcement comes at a time when Clark is reallocating administration and staffing budgets that would alter segments of the community development department. Greenhalgh applied for the town planner's position after the internal posting was made on Nov. 21.
Greenhalgh served as assistant town planner here for six years from 2000 to 2006, but when a $2.9 million override failed, the position was cut. Funding for a part-time position was later approved and Greenhalgh returned, but later took a full-time position as town planner/assistant town administrator in Truro. She came back to Harwich as assistant town administrator in 2015.
Harwich lost its town planner in early December when Aly Sabatino took a similar position in the town of Chatham.
“When Aly told me she was leaving, she looked at me and said you light up when you talk planning. It's your passion,” Greenhalgh said.
Before Greenhalgh came to Harwich, she has worked as an assistant town planner and acting director of planning and community development in Chatham and a town planner and grant writer in Dennis. Greenhalgh said she talked with former town planner Susan Leven, whom she worked with here. Leven made similar comments to Sabatino's, so Greenhalgh talked with her husband about changing jobs.
She also talked with Clark before making the final decision.
“Charleen did a very good job for us,” Clark told selectmen on Monday night. “But planning has been her passion and she is going upstairs.”
“I really do love planning. I liked Truro because I did both. I love what I'm doing here, but planning is my passion,” Greenhalgh agreed.
Clark stated in a memo to selectmen that there was Greenhalgh was the only one to apply for the job when it was posted internally. The interview team put together to assist in filling the position concurred that she had the qualifications and experience to be interviewed for the position.
“After careful consideration and discussion of the evaluation scores, the team unanimously selected Ms. Greenhalgh to serve as the new town planner,” Clark's memo stated. The interview team was made up of Clark, Health Director Meggan Eldredge, Planning Board Chairman Larry Brophy and member James Atkinson, and Police Chief David Guillemette.
Selectmen on Monday night confirmed Greenhalgh's appointment. Greenhalgh's starting salary will be $85,269 annually.
“It's a reduction in pay,” Greenhalgh told The Chronicle. “But I've been a public servant for 30 years and it's not always about the pay. It's about the service you can provide and the people you're working for. I'm very proud of the work I've done over my two years here.”
The plan is for Greenhalgh to remain as the assistant town administrator until a new one comes on board. She will serve as interim town planner until then.
“It will provide for a good transition for the assistant town administrator because I'm still here,” Greenhalgh said. “And I get to work with Chris. I enjoy working with him.”
Greenhalgh has been serving as the director of the community development department in her present position. Clark indicated that would remain her focus and the new assistant town administrator would concentrate more on human resources.
Clark's plan for reorganization of staffing in the community development department calls for the administrative assistants in the health and building departments to take on more responsibilities under the new position of executive assistants.
The plan is to not fill an administrative assistant position for the conservation department but to place those tasks with the executive assistant working with the health department. The funds that are freed up would be used to make the assistant conservation agent a full-time position. Selectmen made no decisions Monday, but asked Clark to develop an organizational chart so they could better understand how the organization would work as a whole.