WILBRAHAM – It’s official, East Longmeadow Town Administrator Nick Breault was chosen by the Board of Selectmen at its March 16 meeting to be Wilbraham’s new town administrator.
Breault, who has served East Longmeadow’s town administrator for a decade, was one of three finalists who were interviewed for approximately an hour by the board at its special March 7 meeting.
The other two finalists were former West Springfield Mayor Edward Gibson and former Town Administrator of Bar Harbor Maine, Dana Reed.
Breault told Reminder Publications he thinks Wilbraham is a “terrific community” and he is looking forward to a “career progression” with the town because of the increased responsibility and authority that Wilbraham requires of its town administrator.
“I was thrilled [to hear that] I was selected for the position,” he added. “I find Wilbraham to be a very great community. I’m very happy.”
Board of Selectmen Chair Robert Russell said Breault was chosen for his approachability and his “direct and candid responses,” as well as his sense of humor.
“He was approachable and has a lot of energy [and] he’s going to need it,” Russell added.
All three candidates would be suitable for the town administrator position, he noted. In reviewing the finalists’ interviews, Russell said it was like “splitting hairs” to determine who among the finalists would be chosen.
“All three [finalists] were great and they all brought different aspects to the table, that’s for sure,” he added.
Russell said he and the other selectmen did not discuss candidates outside of meetings due to the Open Meeting Law.
“People came up to me and said, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you about so and so’ and I said, ‘Nope, not listening.’ The first information that any of us got was when we saw their resumes and cover letters,” he continued.
Russell said one aspect that he kept in mind while interviewing the finalists was “who could handle what I see as the biggest challenges going forward and that is, we’re going to have a lot of turn over of department heads over the next six or eight years. I want somebody who is going to be in a position to learn and grow and stay in the position for the long haul, there’s not guarantees, of course.”
Patrick Brady, chair of the Town Administrator Search Committee and a former Selectman, told Reminder Publications Breault has had a cordial relationship with Wilbraham departments when East Longmeadow has interacted with the town during the past decade.
For example, East Longmeadow assisted with emergency shelters for Wilbraham residents during the 2011 tornado, he added.
About a decade ago, the town was working on a comparison study of 30 other similar communities, one of which East Longmeadow, Brady said. The study compared criteria such as income, education, and population density.
“East Longmeadow came up as most like Wilbraham,” he added.
Brady said, “I think the selectmen had three very good options, Gibson and Dana would have also been a good choice, but you can’t go wrong with Nick.”
According to the profile for the position, the salary is projected to be between $84,881 and $118,832.
East Longmeadow Board of Selectmen Chair Paul Federici told Reminder Publications he has worked with Breault for six years, ever since he was first elected to public office.
“In my opinion, it’s a tremendous loss for us and a tremendous gain for Wilbraham,” Federici added. “I came into this never being in public office and he’s been a tremendous help. I’ve said this a million times, he’s made me look bright and he’s made me look smarter than I am numerous times over the last six years. It’s been a pleasure to work with him and I obviously wish him only the best in the future.”
Russell said the timeline for Breault’s appointment has not been set at this point, but will be within the next few days. Before he is appointed, Breault must negotiate to end his contract with East Longmeadow and come to an agreement with Wilbraham for its own contract.
“I can’t imagine that we wouldn’t come to an agreement, but you just don’t know sometimes,” Russell added.
If Breault were unable to take the position, the board would deliberate to choose one of the two other finalists, he noted.