City hires Vinskey as principal planner
Date: 3/20/2012March 21, 2012
By Debbie Gardnerdebbieg@thereminder.com
WESTFIELD The city will shortly have a new principal planner, and Mayor Daniel Knapik said he is "very pleased" with the person selected.
G.J Vinskey, a resident of Northampton and an adjunct professor of regional planning at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, accepted the position in early March. He is scheduled to begin his new position on March 26.
Lawrence Smith, former director of Community Planning and principal planner for the city of Westfield, did not have his contract renewed and left his position on Dec. 15, 2011.
Vinskey was selected from a field of 24 applicants and five finalists. Steve Hagan, the city's acting personnel director, Timothy Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and Jeffrey Daley, city advancement officer, participated in the applicants' interviews and candidate selection.
"We were very happy with the pool," Hagan said. "People from all over the country and from out of the country applied [for the position]."
Hagan added the interview team considered Vinskey the best choice for the position based on three criteria "he answered the questions appropriately, his references checked out and the team thought he was what Westfield was looking for."
Knapik said he met with Vinskey on March 15, and found him a good match for what he believes the city needs going forward.
"I think his personality and demeanor is just what we are looking for in the city and that his qualifications speak to him being more than qualified for the job," he said.
Knapik said the hiring of a principal planner was part of his move to properly staff the Planning Department.
"Mr. Smith was appointed the Community Development Director and had a side agreement with the former mayor to also act as principal planner," Knapik said. "I'm just restoring the department back to its historic staffing of positions. [Community develop-ment and planning] have two entirely different skill sets and are two very different jobs. I was never comfortable with it being one [position]."
Knapik said a job description has been written for the Community Development Director position and he expects to fill it in the fall.