N.H. engineer named Town Manager

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 9:15am
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After conducting three rounds of interviews, the New Shoreham Town Council has named Edward Roberge as the Island’s new Town Manager. Interim Town Manager, Shirlyne Gobern, has been at the helm since February.

“I’d like to make a motion to appoint Edward L. Roberge of Bow, New Hampshire, as Town Manager, pending the town and the candidate successfully negotiating a personal services contract.”

That motion was made by First Warden Ken Lacoste, seconded by Second Warden Norris Pike and unanimously approved by a 4-0 vote at the Town Council’s meeting on Monday night. Absent from the meeting, which had been moved from Sept. 20 due to Hurricane Jose’s impact on attendance, was Councilor Chris Willi. 

Lacoste made the motion about a half an hour after the Town Council held a closed session meeting to discuss its selection. Lacoste said, “No votes were taken in closed session.”  

Roberge is currently City Engineer for the City of Concord, N.H., a position he has held since August 2005. According to his LinkedIn page, Roberge graduated from Northeastern University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering, began his career at Hussey Seating Company in Maine, and operated his own engineering business in Concord for six years.

Lacoste said the appointment of Roberge was the “result of an exhaustive and extremely efficient effort” by the town’s two search committees: the five-member town employee committee and seven-member community committee. Lacoste credited fellow Council member Chris Willi, the committees’ ex officio Chair, Town Clerk Molly Fitzpatrick and Gobern for assisting in the process. “We were given five excellent (finalist) candidates — and the vetting process has taken place,” he said.

“He stood out to us as someone the Town Council feels will be the best fit for us,” Lacoste told The Block Island Times. “We all felt that he is somebody who gets things done. The reviews we got on him working on a major project in (Concord) was that he’s not afraid to take on difficult tasks. His demeanor, experience, background, and public service skills seem to be the best choice for us at this time.” Lacoste noted that, “The Town Council did extensive reference checks and it was all very positive,” and that Roberge has human resources experience as well. 

Lacoste said that the town has “begun negotiations with” and put out feelers regarding short or long-term housing for Roberge. “It’s an exciting time, and we’re looking forward to getting him here.”

Pike said, “I think the community will like the choice. He will fit in very well here. I think he’s in for the long run.” Pike said Roberge has a “sense of humor,” and was the first finalist to interview. “I think we would have hired him on the spot. We were impressed,” he said. “He seems like a real straight shooter. Everybody liked him from the get-go. I think he’ll be a fair guy, which is important here.”  

Councilor Martha Ball said, “We are in contract negotiations, I will be more than happy to discuss this once those are completed. I do not anticipate any difficulties, but I do not think it appropriate to further comment at this point beyond it being a unanimous vote of the members present.”

Councilor André Boudreau said, “He exhibits all of the qualities that our town needs for the foreseeable future. In addition to that he is extremely analytical and professional, yet has a great sense of humor. He was the top choice of both of our search committees and the Town Council unanimously agreed. There was never any doubt in my mind that he loves Block Island and would like to make it his home. To me that was as important as any qualification listed in the job description.” 

Community Committee Chair Margie Comings said, “I believe the Town Council has made an excellent choice in selecting Ed Roberge. He brings a wide range of experiences to Block Island, and I look forward to working with him in the coming years.” Employee committee Chair Amy Land didn’t have a comment at this time.

Chris Willi said, “Mr. Roberge is very qualified, interviewed superbly, and demonstrated he has the qualities and aptitude the Town Council and 13 members of the search committees were looking for.” Willi said those qualities are “leadership, diplomacy, vision, drive, and attention to detail.” He also said that Roberge has been fully vetted, and will begin his tenure, “pending contract negotiations, as soon as possible.”

“The committees spent a tremendous amount of time on the selection process during a very busy time of year,” added Willi. “Everyone did their homework, took this seriously and did a thorough job with the 53 candidates, all with the assistance of Town Clerk Molly Fitzpatrick as the clerk for the process. They represented the community of Block Island superbly and professionally and I could not be more pleased with how they did, which would have been the case if I wasn't the ex officio chair.”

The committees began the search for a new town manager in March with a targeted start date of Labor Day, but summer work schedules and candidate availability delayed the process. 

Moped agreement

In other news, the Town Council renewed the moped settlement agreement for another five years. Town Solicitor Katherine Merolla said the agreement is set to expire on July 31, 2022. The moped settlement agreement sets the town’s rules and conditions for operation of mopeds rented from the island’s moped rental companies.

Pike said an irritating problem with the mopeds during the summer season was the excessive use of moped horns. Moped rental shop owner Johnny Leone said that he is trying to get a handle on the horn issue, as well as mopeds used by unauthorized drivers.

Unauthorized drivers are those indivuals who end up driving the moped but did not sign the rental agreement.

The next Town Council meeting is Monday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.