Since coming aboard as the town’s new administrator earlier this month, David Caron said he has is seeing a number of potential redevelopment opportunities to help improve the local economy.
In a recent phone interview, Caron also discussed the transition process into his new job and said he has some resolutions and personal goals he would like to achieve in 2017.
“I think a personal goal is to make sure that folks in Derry understand that government is accessible and unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that we can always satisfy the concerns and end up agreeing on an issue,” Caron said. “But at least folks should know that if they have an issue they are able to contact us and we will apply the appropriate resources either to address a concern or at least respond with an answer.”
In October, he was named as town administrator, with a starting salary of $137,500.
Caron, 58, previously served in Londonderry as town manager from 2003 until 2012, and was the interim town manager in Hampton in 2012 before being hired as town manager in Jaffrey.
Last December, councilors agreed to hire the Meredith-based firm Municipal Resources Inc. for $14,000 to conduct the search to find the new town administrator.
During the course of the search, councilors were not pleased with the potential candidates MRI selected and chose to take on the search themselves, council Chairman Brian Chirichiello sad.
Councilors worked as a team and five additional candidates were interviewed, Chirichiello said.
“It was a unanimous decision of the council to reach out into the workplace and to try to recruit a candidate,” he said.
Councilors said they were seeking five qualities in the potential candidates: longevity in municipal experience; experience dealing with a budget of $20 million; experience working with 150 or more employees; strong and unbiased leadership; and fair and responsible management style.
During his transition into the new job, Caron said he has been meeting with elected officials and community leaders to get an understanding and appreciation of their viewpoints on local affairs and what concerns they might have.
“You pull all of this information together to get a sense of is there any consensus on issues, are there any outstanding items that need to be addressed,” Caron said, adding, “You do that simultaneously of course while executing the duties of town administrator dealing with personnel matters and budget approvals and purchase approvals. So at this point we are still in that preliminary stage just gathering information to see what current events are here in Derry and what are the priorities of all the stakeholders.”
Caron said this process will continue for a few more weeks as he and staff members pull the information together and “try to identify any synergies and a recurring theme we see as to what issues are out there.”
Of course, Caron said, economic development is already a theme in Derry. The council had a meeting last week with the economic advisory committee to get a sense of retail analytics from Buxton, a marketing company that attempts to help attract retailers to communities.
In June, Buxton made a presentation to the Economic Development Committee on how the company could recruit retailers to Derry. Buxton successfully helped Rochester to attract retail and commercial businesses to the community and increase tax revenue, according to the presentation. Rochester is comparable in size to Derry, with a population of approximately 30,000 people.
Caron also discussed the differences he sees between neighboring Londonderry, where he worked as the town manager for about 10 years, and Derry regarding economic development opportunities. A lot of the available land in Derry has already been developed, according to officials.
“I think the difference I’m seeing is that there were a lot of development opportunities in Londonderry and in Derry there are some development opportunities but there are a lot of redevelopment opportunities,” he said.
He added, “So it’s a little bit of a different approach with respect to redevelopment. I think at this point it’s going to be one of our primary focuses in Derry just based upon the land uses and the available land in the community.”
In the coming weeks, Caron said he plans to continue meeting with area stakeholders and learning as much as possible about local concerns.
As for working with his new staff Caron said,
“It’s going very well they have a great staff here in Derry. They are very experienced; they have a handle on operations in the community. They interact very well between departments to maximize our resources and any inefficiencies, so it’s been a pleasure working with the staff here.
He added, “I think the staff is a strongpoint of the community. We have some excellent leadership on the council level so I suspect we’ll be developing some goals and objectives and I look forward to implementing those goals and objectives in 2017.”