Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Search for Town Planner Expanded

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
September 1, 2007

VERNON - The search to fill the town planner's post, left vacant when Neil Pade took a similar job in Canton, has been widened because of the low number of applicants in the first round, town officials say.

According to Town Administrator Christopher Clark, when Pade was hired here two years ago his application was one of 17.

But prior to last week there had been only seven applications submitted for the post, Clark said, adding that the deadline was extended to last Monday and the search expanded to include Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Pade, 35, resigned in June citing budget and time constraints placed on the planning office that left little time for his young family.

During budget deliberations last spring when Republicans were considering layoffs, Economic Development Director and Assistant Town Planner Marina Rodriguez's name came up.

And when Pade first was hired as town planner, the council left the assistant position vacant for six months to save money, forcing Pade to do the work of two jobs for that time.

Since then there has been talk of instituting a hiring freeze.

At the time Mayor Ellen L. Marmer worried that hiring and budget issues would lead to more resignations among town staff and a reputation that Vernon was not a good place to work.

"There is a very small world of planning that has a very large grapevine, and prospective candidates may have heard about the working conditions here," Clark acknowledged.

Clark said the expanded search didn't produce "a heck of a lot more" applicants.

There are now about 10, but the quality of the candidates on the whole is good, he added.

Interviews were being conducted this week and next, and Clark said he hoped to be able to make a recommendation to the mayor by the end of next week.

"I'm cautiously optimistic we'll have a good candidate to present," he said.

For now, town building official Abraham Ford has been acting as interim planner.

©Journal Inquirer 2007