Dracut selectmen to convene Tuesday, but town manager search still on hold

Dracut Town Hall, closed to the public. (SUN/Julia Malakie)
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DRACUT — The Board of Selectmen will meet virtually for the first time Tuesday night in a session set to be broadcast live on Dracut Access Television.

The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, which will be conducted via the videoconferencing service Zoom, includes several public hearings on requests for special permits, including from BKPN LLC, a company hoping to set up a marijuana retail establishment in town.

According to Selectman Chairman Jesse Forcier, residents will be able to log on or call in to the meeting to provide input during each of these public hearings, and anyone who runs into technological issues can also submit their comments via email.

But one thing residents won’t see on the agenda is discussion of the search for a new town manager, which has been put on hold in light of the public health emergency. Forcier said he has kept in close contact with the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management, which was contracted to oversee the search, about the process and how it could potentially move forward.

Four finalists selected by a screening committee earlier this year were set to be interviewed in March, but those interviews were canceled due to the pandemic. At this point, the board will likely discuss next steps in the search sometime in mid-May, after Gov. Charlie Baker’s current stay-at-home advisory expires on May 4, Forcier said. He noted that officials don’t feel comfortable with conducting the interviews over a service such as Zoom.

Asked whether the decision might be postponed until after new members are elected to the board in late June, Forcier said the duty to select a new town manager lies with the selectmen who are currently serving.

“The responsibility falls on this board and this board only. We are the board that began the search, and I intend for this board to be the one that completes it,” Forcier said.

Two selectmen, Tami Dristiliaris and Alison Hughes, will give up their seats in June, as they opted not to file for re-election. With Dracut’s election postponed to June 29, they are serving for slightly longer than anticipated. Dracut’s Town Meeting has also been postponed to June 30.

The session is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. To join online via Zoom, use the webinar ID 952 5158 2126 and password 874354, or call 877-853-5257 or 888-475-4499 and enter the webinar ID.