New administrators ahead for Deerfield, Sunderland in 2020

  • Sunderland Town Hall FILE PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Saturday, January 11, 2020

Deerfield and Sunderland are expected to find themselves with new town administrators in 2020.

Both towns have extended offers to their top prospects, and elected officials hope to wrap up negotiations in the coming weeks. Following public interviews, Deerfield has reached out to Ashfield Town Administrator Kayce Warren to replace Wendy Foxmyn, and Sunderland decided to ask Geoff Kravitz, the economic development director in Amherst, to take the place of Sherry Patch.

The Deerfield Select Board voted Dec. 27 to enter into negotiations with Warren, who previously served as town administrator in Deerfield. She left about four years ago to take the Ashfield job.

Deerfield Select Board Chairman Trevor McDaniel said he and his peers are impressed with Warren’s experience, and her ability to work with townspeople and department heads. A screening committee received 12 applications and put forth two finalists: Warren and interim Town Administrator Diana Schindler.

“I don’t think it will take too long (to finish negotiations),” McDaniel said. “It’s going to be exciting to have a full-time town administrator.”

Foxmyn, who had been the administrator for about two years, retired in February. Schindler, the former Orange town administrator who served as special projects coordinator in Deerfield, was tapped as Foxmyn’s interim replacement. McDaniel wanted to stick with Schindler, but the other two Select Board members, Carolyn Shores Ness and David Wolfram, were adamant about offering the job to Warren, who declined to comment, pending negotiations.

Warren had worked for the town for 17 years, starting in 1999 as an administrative assistant in the Select Board’s office. She became the executive assistant to the town administrator and the Select Board, and took the interim town administrator job in February 2014. She was hired as the permanent town administrator the following August.

Meanwhile, in Sunderland, Select Board Clerk Tom Fydenkevez said Kravitz is the right pick due to his positive temperament, his understanding of how a town operates, his ability to listen and his empathy toward residents.

Kravitz, 39, said he hopes to finish negotiations “sometime in the near future,” though he declined to elaborate on when that might be.

“I’ve been interested in municipal government and it’s a community close by that I’m familiar with,” he said.

Kravitz said he has worked as the economic development director in Amherst, where he grew up and still resides, for four years.

Whately infrastructure

The town received nearly $500,000 from the state in 2017 to replace the closed Williamsburg Road bridge, and Town Administrator Brian Domina believes that work will be completed this year.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, through its Municipal Small Bridge Program, will pay the project’s $497,000 cost of design and construction. The grant was awarded at the end of March 2017.

A failed inspection in 2010 resulted in closure of the bridge, which spans Sanderson Brook. The inspection “revealed severe section loss and cracks on multiple mid-span beams,” according to the grant application, which was submitted in the fall of 2016. Domina said the closure means people have to take an 8.2-mile detour. The grant application approximated additional travel time at 18.25 minutes.

Domina said the replacement was designed by Tighe & Bond and construction was expected to go out to bid this week. He said state Chapter 90 funding will be used if bids come in over the cost estimate.

The town also expects to reconstruct sidewalks along Chestnut Plain Road and paint new crosswalks as part of a Complete Streets Project, Domina said. Whately received a state grant of roughly $225,000 for the work. Residents at the Annual Town Meeting on April 30, 2019, voted to transfer from $5,000 from free cash to pay for the design and engineering of sidewalks along Chestnut Plain Road. Highway Superintendent Keith Bardwell has said the sidewalks will span from the Center School to The Whately Inn.

Also on the itinerary is to combine the town’s two public water systems — a town water department, and a wter district Domina has said is a “separate, quasi-public district” that has about 45 customers.

He previously said limited water supply, the low number of customers, increasing regulations and increasing operating costs make the long-term operation of the water district unsustainable. The town administrator said the plan is to build a booster station pump house, a small shed-like building to pump water to those roughly 45 customers.