Methuen’s director of community development leaves | Merrimack Valley

METHUEN – Longtime director of economic and community development Bill Buckley is preparing to step down after 20 years for a job in the private sector, according to Mayor Neil Perry, who says he will now restructure the division that Buckley oversaw in an effort to serve the city more effectively.

Perry said a job posting for Buckley is expected to be posted on the town’s website shortly. In the meantime, the city’s director of inspection services, Felix Zemel, will absorb Buckley’s duties with regard to health and inspection work.

Perry expects to appoint director of planning Kathleen Colewell as interim director after Buckley leaves in early August.

“He’s been a big help to me and I’ll miss him,” Perry said of Buckley.

At the next city council meeting on August 2, Perry said he would present members with a reorganization plan to split Buckley’s old role into two separate positions. During the coronavirus pandemic, Perry said, he realized that while some parts of the role overlap, the city is best served by having a separate economic and community development division.

“If we’re going to get businesses to come to the town of Methuen, we need someone who works there 24/7,” Perry said, adding that he didn’t have to. all blamed Buckley for neglecting such tasks during the pandemic, but realized he was otherwise concerned with coronavirus-related tasks such as vaccines and the like.

Council must approve Perry’s request, the mayor said.

The hiring of additional health workers would come through grants already secured through Zemel’s hard work, Perry said.

Perry’s vision for the future of the department is one that focuses on “full-time marketing of the city,” he explained.

“During the pandemic, our housing growth was important, but what we need to focus more on is more business. The residential part that we get, ”said the mayor. “We need to do more to attract business. Methuen does not have a reputation for being business friendly, but we are working to change that.

One small step that Perry and others at town hall have taken to help business owners is a program called “Startup in a Day.” According to Perry, vice-chairman DJ Beauregard drafted a law, co-sponsored by Councilor Eunice Zeigler, to pass a resolution to “eliminate red tape” for business owners when seeking approvals, of licenses and permits at the town hall. The goal is to make sure business owners can receive the necessary documents within 24 hours or less, Beauregard said. This law was adopted unanimously last May.

“The last thing we want to tell people is that they have to come back next week to talk to this person or that person about another permit,” Perry said in making City Hall a One stop shop for business needs.

According to Beauregard, he was encouraged to draft the legislation “because Methuen should be one of the easiest places in the Merrimack Valley to start a business”.


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Norma P. Rex

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