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Town’s new planning director settles into role

Date: 5/15/2015

AGAWAM – The town of Agawam recently hired the second planning director in its history. Marc Strange has been welcomed on board, joining the Planning Department in April.

Strange lives in Longmeadow with his wife and two children, and his family played a large role in his decision to apply for the job. After moving to Longmeadow, Strange opened up his own law practice in Springfield, but it became too much.

“I was always keeping my eyes open … This provides a better work-life balance,” Strange said.

When he saw that Deb Dachos, the former planning director, was retiring in February, he decided to apply.

Strange is not unfamiliar with Agawam and the town hall, serving as a law clerk from 2002 to 2004.

Though still in his first month on the job, Strange said he has taken time to get familiar with the details of ongoing projects, focusing on “the big three” – Walnut Street Extension, Games and Lanes and the School Street Barn – first. He said he has made note of other areas in town he would like to look into, but not yet.

“I have to get myself comfortable and confident before I can actually go out and present to people and try to sell my agenda, essentially,” Strange said. “They’re not going to listen to me. If I don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s no credibility coming through the door.”

With Dachos at the helm of the department for 33 years, one might expect the transition to be difficult, but Strange said everyone has been helpful in getting him settled and Dachos herself has been accessible if he has questions.

“She was the first one, so she set the precedent. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. I think the department is running fine the way it was,” Strange said. “Again, I’m trying to keep a low profile and just try and assimilate the best I can …  I’m just trying to finish what she started in a lot of ways.”

Aside from working in town during his time at law school, Strange said his own hometown of Rome, N.Y., has a lot in common with Agawam. It is something, he said, that will help him in the long run.

“I just feel connected to the town and what’s going on. Every day is interesting. Every day is different and my professional goals have always been to have full days but be able to go home afterwards and enjoy my life with my family,” Strange said. “This job is perfect for that. Every day is full. It’s interesting … People are down to earth. They’re real. They have real problems, real dreams. It’s tangible, and I like that.”