WENHAM – The Wenham Select Board finds itself in a familiar position as it starts the search for a new town administrator with Thomas Younger back in the saddle as the town’s interim Town Administrator.
The Board parted ways with former Town Administrator Ryan Ferrara on Jan. 7 after placing him on paid administrative leave.
“Mr. Ferrara would like to extend his gratitude to the Wenham Select Board for the opportunity to serve as Wenham’s Town Administrator, and to Town staff and citizens for their support,” read an official statement from the Select Board. “The Board thanks Mr. Ferrara for his hard work and dedication during a very challenging period in Wenham. The Board wishes him well in his future endeavors.”
Ferrera served as Wenham’s Town Administrator from July to December last year after serving as Boxborough’s Town Administrator from 2019-2021.
At its most recent meeting, the Board put in motion its plan to keep the town running smoothly and hire a new town administrator. To the first point, the Board unanimously voted to bring Younger back as the interim Town Administrator, a role he filled before Ferrara was hired.
Younger has a long resume of municipal administrative positions stretching back to the 1980s, and more recently serving in Swampscott and Stoneham.
“Tom Younger was our interim Town Administrator from November to June of last year, and he did reach out when he heard we had an opening, so to speak, and offered to help,” said Select Board Chair Catherine Harrison.
Harrison said the town was offering Younger a contract similar to the last time he held the position, with the exception that the hours would be reduced from 40 to 30 per week.
“I think this will be a nice, stabilizing person to have in Town Hall as we go through this transition,” said Select Board member Dianne Bucco.
Younger was scheduled to step into his role at Town Hall on Monday, Jan. 24.
“I was grateful for the fact that this is a person that will literally be able to sit down behind the desk and start off not exactly where he left off, but certainly with a lot of familiarity with the projects and issues and initiatives,” said Harrison. “He also has a lot of years of experience with Town Meeting. I’m excited to have him on board.”
With Younger back at Town Hall, Harrison said the focus is now on starting the search process for a new Town Administrator.
Harrison, Bucco, and Select Board member Gary Cheeseman agreed that rather than bringing in an outside consultant, most of the new search can be done in house.
“I think we could probably find some quality candidates on our own is what my gut says,” said Bucco, who spoke to people in a number of communities that have recently undergone an administrator search process.
While there will be a limited role for any consultants, Harrison said there will be a screening committee composed of residents who will help recommend qualified candidates to the Select Board.
“It would save us some money, and I agree that we would be a little closer to the search by doing a lot of it ourselves,” said Harrison.
Harrison added that with his long experience, Younger could also be an asset during the search process.
“We should put this on the agenda (for the next Board Meeting) and start looking at what the steps would be for us to do it ourselves,” said Harrison. “My own personal opinion is I think that this is a new and fresh opportunity before us as a board and before us as a town to look at town administrators.”
Harrison encouraged people who may not have been involved in town government in the past to get involved with the screening committee, adding that anyone interested in serving on the committee should contact the Town Administrator’s office at Town Hall.