Roberge looks forward to new life

As Town Manager
Fri, 09/29/2017 - 10:15am

“I was quite elated. It’s a great opportunity, a unique opportunity, working in a unique location.”

That was Edward Roberge’s reaction after learning Monday night that he was chosen unanimously by the New Shoreham Town Council as the town’s new town manager. Roberge told The Block Island Times that he felt like Block Island was home, and he is interested in securing a long-term contract, a position he hopes will be his “last job.” (The vote was 4-0, with Councilor Chris Willi absent from the meeting.)

Roberge is currently in contract negotiations with the town, something that First Warden Ken Lacoste said might take some time. Not only does Roberge have to agree to contractual terms with the town, but he has to find housing on the island, while at the same time wrapping up business in Concord, New Hampshire, where he works as City Engineer.

“I am really look forward to living and working in the Block Island community,” he said. “It has a great cross section of people who care. I’m looking forward to developing long-term relationships, and I look forward to serving. My door will always be open.”

Roberge said he and his family have traveled to Block Island on a number of occasions. “We love it,” he said, noting that he learned about the Town Manager job in April. Roberge said he applied for the position because he was looking to advance his career as a city manager. “So we dove in,” he remarked, noting the decision he made with his wife.

He acknowledged that moving to Block Island will be “a significant change of life, and a significant opportunity.” 

Part of diving in, for Roberge, means finding housing, an issue he is familiar with and dealt with in his role as City Engineer for the City of Concord. “It’s a big problem, and a big challenge,” he said. “Hopefully, I can find housing on the island so I can try to solve the issue.”

Another issue that Roberge is aware of on Block Island includes the need for high-speed internet service, which he called “critically important.”

“I have a general idea about all of the island’s issues,” said Roberge, noting his awareness of the town’s converting of the Block Island Power Company to a utility district, and the island’s commitment to environmental issues.

“I have an engineering background, but project management can be the same as managing people,” he said. “I think my experience aligns very well” with the way things work on Block Island. He added, referring to the town employees he met, “It’s a small island with a small staff, but you’re getting the most out of that staff.”

As for fitting in, he said, “It felt like home during my tour,” referring to the tour of the island he took courtesy of the search committees. 

When informed that Second Warden Norris Pike appreciated his sense of humor during the interview process, Roberge said, “You can’t always take life so seriously. You have to stop, and smile and laugh.”