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Mark Haddad Is Finalist For Town Manager Job In Dracut

by Connie Sartini
Groton Town Manager Mark has been named one of four finalists for the top post for the Town of Dracut. The names of the finalists were released this week by the Town of Dracut and its five-member Town Manager Screening Committee. The vacancy is due to the resignation of the former Dracut Town Manager.
     The other three finalists include former Amesbury Mayor Kenneth Gray, Southbridge Town Manager Ronald San Angelo, and Framingham Chief Operating Officer Thatcher Kezer III.
     Haddad was hired as Groton’s first Town Manager following the adoption of the Town Charter which established the position in 2007. He came to Groton with experience, as he had served as a Town Manager in several other communities. However, the Charter was new for the voters and for members of various boards and committees as areas of authority
and responsibilities shifted to the newly adopted position. Town officials recognized the need for stronger overall management for a growing town than could be provided by a three-person volunteer Board of Selectmen.
     Since Haddad became Town Manager eleven and a half years ago, his achievements during that period have been significant for the town. For the first time, the Town of Groton received a AAA bond rating enabling the town to borrow money at a markedly lower rate. The new Center Fire Station came in under budget in spite of issues with the contactors that required Haddad to step in and lead the project to completion. In addition, with his guidance, the new Center in West Groton came in under budget, and the new Department of Public Works building is on budget target.
     On the commercial front, Haddad and his team applied for a Mass Works Grant that was approved for a sewer system extension at the Four Corners, designed to increase development potential and the resulting increase in tax revenue.
All of the Department Heads in the Town, with the exception of two, were appointed by Haddad. Most of the vacancies were due to retirements.
Why Dracut?
     Haddad told The Groton Herald that “this opportunity popped up for me. I always look for opportunities and challenges, and Dracut is a bigger town and more responsibility.”
     Haddad stressed, “I am very happy in Groton. I have a great working relationship with the Select Board, the Finance
Committee, the Department Heads and the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District. Last year, Haddad was recruited by the Town of Dunstable for several months to work with the officials there during evenings and weekends to guide them in finding a replacement for their Town Administrator.
     He advised, “We have done a lot of good things for this town. We are in much better shape than when I first came here. We have a solid balanced budget and we established a Capital Planning program that has allowed us to replace a lot of older equipment.”
     Following up on his comment on opportunities and challenges, Haddad stressed, “There are significant challenges ahead right here in Groton and I welcome them as well,” citing the budget for the building of the new Florence Roche Elementary School, the construction of a treatment facility for the increased level of manganese in two of the town’s municipal wells, and the compliance with the Federal Environmental Protection Agency for a stormwater management
system, known as MS4. In addition, with the adoption of the Green Community, there are potential grants that will be available to member towns.
     Haddad’s contract was renewed by the Select Board, and among other agreements, contained an opt-out clause that allows him to resign, giving the Select Board 30-60-day notice.
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