FROM THE TOWN ADMINSTRATOR’S Desk
By Gregory T. Federspiel
I am pleased to introduce Charles Dam as our DPW Director who started work with us last week. Chuck comes to us from the City of Salem where he served as the City’s Engineer and second in command. Prior to working in Salem he worked as a consulting engineer for many North Shore communities on a wide range of municipal projects. Chuck and his wife reside in Danvers. He earned his PE from Northeastern University where he went after growing up in Maine.
Chuck comes on board as Interim Director Carol Murray finishes up her contract with us. Carol was originally brought on for a three month stint through MRI, a consulting firm that the town has used for various studies and recruiting services, when our recruiting efforts failed to find a suitable candidate over three years ago. After the first three months we decided it would be best to have Carol stay with us for an extended period before embarking on another recruitment effort to allow us to improve various aspects of the DPW operations. Fortunately for us Carol and MRI agreed to enter into a new three year contract.
Under Carol’s leadership significant progress has been made on a number of important fronts. We have brought the Town’s water and wastewater infrastructure into compliance with state regulations. All permits are now up to date and we are finishing up the various requirements that the state mandated. In addition, we have made important investments in our aging infrastructure, replacing critical stretches of water pipe, replacing broken valves and hydrants and repairing the sewer collection system, eliminating unwanted fresh and salt water intrusions. We have assessed all the roads and created a multi-year repair plan based on road conditions. We have undertaken similar assessments of the water and sewer systems as well as the drainage system throughout town. These studies provide an important roadmap for our capital needs going forward and allow us to put together capital plans based on assessed priorities.
Operationally Carol and the DPW staff have revamped snow and ice operations to be more efficient. Improved safety procedures and trainings have been incorporated into the departmental routines. Protocols for improved communications with residents impacted by construction projects have been developed as well as procedures for responding to resident needs. Hopefully these improvements will be evident as we proceed with new projects and serving the needs of the community. To the credit of all staff, the department is in better shape than it has been in a number of years.
While it was an option to extend our contract with MRI and retain Carol’s services longer, the Selectmen decided we should try our luck again at recruiting a permanent DPW Director with the hopes of establishing a long-term relationship for the department and residents. We were fortunate to find Mr. Dam who can continue to build on the excellent work Ms. Murray has done for us.
I think you will find Chuck to be an enthusiastic, skilled champion of the critical services our DPW provides and responsive to the many areas for which the DPW is responsible. Without doubt there is no lack of projects to undertake as we continue to focus on re-investing in our infrastructure and making sure the roads and sidewalks are safe to travel, clean water always comes out of your faucet and waste is properly and efficiently handled. Next time you are in Town Hall feel free to welcome Chuck to the community.