Sandy Pooler, 2022James R. Feeney

UPDATED March 27: The Select Board interviewed publicly one finalist for town manager on Monday, March 27, and he has been a familiar face at Town Hall since 2009 -- James R. Feeney, the deputy town manager for operations.

Town Counsel Doug Heim told the board March 20 that legal questions about naming the single finalist had been cleared via advice from the state and that he was free to name Feeney.

Board members Len Diggins, Diane Mahon, John Hurd and Eric Helmuth discussed how to move forward and decided on a public interview to take place at the March 27 meeting. Board membet Steve DeCourcey was absent March 20; there was no formal vote.

Feeney's candidacy emerged into public view after three of the four finalists to succeed Sandy Pooler as town manager withdrew with no public explanation provided. Read the detailed explanation here >> 

Screening panel, consultant

A screening committee had worked earlier this year with Community Paradigm Associates LLC, of Plymouth, hired by Arlington under a $14,000 contract to help recruit the next town manager; the consultant was required under the state Open Meeting Law to recommend more than one candidate.

Feeney's current annual salary is $147,792, town Personnel Director Caryn Malloy told YourArlington on March 21. The advertised annual salary for town manager is $200,000; following that number is a plus or minus depending on qualifications. "The successful candidate will receive an attractive compensation package including health and retirement plans, commensurate with qualifications and experience," the advertised position description says.

Select Board logo, 2019

Pooler has been in the town's top job only since June 2022, and his contract is set to expire by August 2023; moreover, Pooler has previously publicly mentioned his intention to retire at that time. For that reason, earlier this year, the Select Board had stated its desire to choose Pooler's successor as soon as next month. 

At Town Hall 14 years

Feeney, who is 37, has worked at Town Hall for 14 years, coming on board as a health-compliance officer.

In June 2015, he began wearing two hats -- as acting recreation director and as acting director of health and human services. He served in the former role until September 2019 and in the latter role until October 2015.

From September 2016 to September 2019, he was the assistant town manager. In announcing that promotion in 2016, then-Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine cited Feeney's ability to work on difficult issues.

Since June 2016, Feeney had been acting director of recreation, heading a department that has faced controversy at the time after some residents protested the planned removal of dawn redwood trees at Magnolia Park. The issue came before the Conservation Commission at two hearings before the body approved the tree removals.

As the town's health-compliance officer, he worked on medical-marijuana regulations. 

Assistant position created

The position of assistant town manager was created as part of an agreement worked out in February 2016, when selectmen voted to raise Chapdelaine's salary to keep him in town. The person in that job typically handles work to lessen the manager's load.

During the spring 2016 Town Meeting, Precinct 17 member John Leonard questioned the position. Chapdelaine replied, citing the numerous responsibilities that the person is expected to take on, including public-records requests, and was intended to be viewed as a community-affairs role, the manager said. The position was adopted.

Asked in 2016 about his previous town positions, Feeney responded: "During my years of service in a public-facing role, I have valued greatly the opportunity to develop positive relationships with many residents and business owners/managers by working collaboratively to protect the public's health and provide basic human services to those in need.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside many of our dedicated and talented employees and public safety personnel to assist neighborhoods, neighbors, landlords and tenants to resolve issues and improve the quality of life. I look forward to the opportunity to meet these citizen needs in a different capacity."

Facilities, records

From September 2019 until June 2021, Feeney was interim facilities director.

Finally, from February 2021 to the present, he has been the deputy town manager for operations.

He has served as the officer who fulfills requests for public records.

His certifications include registered environmental health specialist and registered sanitarian, Mass. construction supervisor and code enforcement lead determinator.

Feeney has degrees from Boston University. His received his undergraduate degree in health science magna cum laude; his master's in public health was in epidemiology. 

March 8, 2023: Town seeks state advice after 3 withdraw from manager search

This news summary was published Tuesday, March 21, 2023. It was updated later that same day to remove the incorrect reporting of a formal vote; there was none.

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