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Family issues lead town's first economic officer to resign

The town's first economic-development coordinator who laid the groundwork aimed at boosting Arlington innovation has resigned to take care of his ill and aging mother.

In an interview on Wednesday, Jan. 16, Alan S. Manoian said the pressure to care for his mother in Lowell in the home where he grew up and meeting responsibilities here as the town's master-planning effort ramped up became too much.

"When I serve, I go 110 percent," he said. "I don't hold back.'

Meeting rising expectations as he commuted here from Lowell reached a breaking point recently, he said, "when an acute situation came up," and he met Carol Kowalski, the town planning director; Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine and Caryn Malloy, town personnel director. All were supportive, he said.

Kowalski has been asked to comment about how and when the $65,439-a-year position will be filled.

Proud of steps toward innovation

Manoian was hired last May. He spent the summer bringing himself up-to-date about Arlington history and issues. He quickly met with business and town leaders in effort to lay the groundwork for what he calls "Arlington's innovation economy lifestyle."

He said he most proud of the steps he took in that direction and praised a number of people who supported him. High among them are Bob Bowes, head of Bowes Real Estate; Alan Jones, a member of Finance Committee; Jenn Tripp, who has managed the Chamber of Commerce office since May; Adria Arch, an Arlington artist who has pushed public art, including the Spy Pond mural; Sushil Tuli, president of Leader bank; and Leland Stein, co-owner of the regent Theatre.

Comments from supporters

Asked to comment about resignation, Jones wrote:

"I enjoyed working with Alan Manoian to help spread the word that Arlington is home to many inventors and entrepreneurs, and begin to promote the idea of 'work where you live, live where you work.'

"I'm confident that we can build on the groundwork he laid to open up Arlington to more of the innovation economy, especially in the form of incubators, shared work/hacker/maker spaces, and open-source economic development."

As a longtime promoter of entertainment in town, Stein wrote:

"Alan was a godsend. The right person at the right time.

"He totally gets the importance of arts and culture to the town, its businesses and residents, and understood right away how much of a magnet the Regent is for commerce in Arlington Center, and how many of the restaurants would be struggling without our presence.

"In his short time here, he did a great deal to connect the Regent with other businesses (and vice versa) and to recommend ways to make the area around the Regent more attractive to the many patrons the Regent draws from Arlington, the surrounding towns, and Metro Boston. His energy and enthusiasm were refreshing. He will be missed."

Tripp, representing her organization, wrote: "The Arlington Chamber of Commerce wishes Alan well. We look forward to working with the new economic-development coordinator."

In response to his aims, Manoian said, "I received great traction and support" from town officials and business leaders as well as numerous businesses he contacted to consider coming to Arlington. He discussed his goals in an August interview with YourArlington >>

Manoian said he is responding to current offers from the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire, but expects deal with issues related to his mother may take another two months.

Full text of letter of resignation

In a letter of resignation dated Jan. 13 to Malloy, Manoian wrote:

It is with a deep sense of appreciation to my municipal colleagues, the residents and business-people of the Town of Arlington, and a sincere sense of regret that I respectfully resign my position as the Town of Arlington’s Economic Development Officer.

Like so many American families, my family now faces a challenging period of age-related health care management issues for an elderly parent. It has become increasingly clear over the course of the last several months and looking ahead to the next several months that it shall require my full obligation of time to fulfill the upcoming complex responsibilities involved in managing our family healthcare & elder parent lifestyle transition matters. I intend to pursue several professional opportunities in the Merrimack Valley & Southern New Hampshire region so as to be in immediate proximity to our family member.

During the course of the last several months my valued departmental colleagues Director Carol Kowalski, Laura Wiener, Joey Glushko, Adam Kurowski, Anna Whitten and Ann Marie Casey have extended noteworthy consideration and genuine support in assisting me with the demanding schedules of both a effecting a successful and energetic new Economic Development program for the Town (and) providing ongoing, immediate, and often emergency care for a family member in the Merrimack Valley. These are very special people that my family will always hold in high esteem.

The past seven months of professional service to the Town of Arlington have been among the most professionally rewarding and enriching of my now lengthy career. I am most proud of our “Economics of Place” program foundation that together we built upon the four pillars of encouraging an Arlington Innovation Economy Lifestyle, investigating an innovative Form-Based Code land & building development regulation, asserting a more high-quality Public Realm experience and functional pedestrian-oriented sidewalk design form, and promoting a local heritage tourism renaissance based on the economics of 'the memorable & the meaningful.' I believe that it could be a firm foundation for great future prospects in Arlington. Special thanks to Alan Jones, my master guide to the wonderful world of the Metro-Boston Innovation Ecosystem.    

In closing, I thank Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, the Arlington Board of Selectmen, and the entire Arlington municipal team. I will always keep in touch with the many good friends and professional colleagues that I am now proud to say I have in Arlington, and I will always have great interest in the bright future of the fine town of Arlington, Massachusetts.

This story was published Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013.

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