Westfield Newsroom

Mayor nominates Planning Board members

WESTFIELD – Mayor Daniel M. Knapik submitted the names of four candidates to serve on the Planning Board to the City Council Thursday night.
The candidates nominations were referred by the council’s to its Personnel Action Committee for review and recommendation. There are currently five Planning Board appointments pending in the PAC.
At-large Councilor Brent B. Bean, chairman of the PAC, said he plans to schedule interviews with four of the nominees prior to the council’s next session on Jan. 19. Those candidates are: Peter S. Fiordalice of 57 Wildflower Circle whose nomination was submitted at the council’s Dec. 15, 2011 meeting; Jane Magarian of 131 Llewellyn Drive to represent Ward 4; Ramon Rivera of 16 Mechanic Street, who has serves as a Park & Recreation Commissioner, to serve ward 2; and Raymond St. Hilaire of 120 Old Stage Road to serve as an alternate member of the board.
The fifth candidate, Christopher Wilkie of 50 Rachael Terrace, has served for the past several years as an alternate member of the Planning Board and has been nominated to serve as a full member representing Ward 6.
“The PAC will be meeting on or before Jan. 19 to interview the new people,” Bean said. “Right now I have the meeting slated for Jan. 19 prior to the City Council session.”
But, Bean said, he would move that meeting up if the committee members feel they need more time with the candidates. The PAC also includes At-large Councilor Brian Sullivan and ward 3 Councilor Peter J. Miller Jr.
“I will make sure that we get them in and voted by the PAC,” Bean said. “I don’t see any problems with this group of people. It’s a diverse group, people with very different backgrounds.”
The PAC members will make a recommendation to the full City Council at the Jan. 19 meeting.
“Anytime there is this much change on a board it’s difficult,” Bean said. “We went through this on the council four years ago when we had five new members join us. It put a lot of pressure on the veteran members.”
City Advancement Officer Jeff Daley said that the goal is to have a newly reconstituted Planning Board in place for the Feb. 7 session. The Planning Board issue is further compounded by the fact that the city is advertising for a new city planner. Resumes for that position are due by Jan. 27.
The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission voted on Dec. 28 to allow the executive director to enter into a contract with the city to provide technical assistance until the city hires a new principal planner.
“We’re hoping that the PAC will expedite the vetting process and that the City Council votes to approve the new members at the Jan. 19 meeting. I’m hopeful that we’ll have close to a full board by Feb. 7.” Daley said. “We’re asking the present members to be leaders in this process and that one of the experienced members steps up to serve as chairman.”
“The goal is to have a planner in place in the month of March,” Daley said. “The PVPC has already begun providing services,” Daley said. “They attended the round table session of (municipal department supervisors) on Thursday and will provide technical services to the Planning Board until a city planner is appointed.”

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