Lawton Takes Over As Interim Town Administrator

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Board of Selectmen News

Interim Assistant Town Administrator Robert Lawton started work in Harwich on Monday. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH — Former interim town administrator Robert Lawton was on the job once again on Monday, this time serving as an interim assistant town administrator. Lawton will serve in that capacity through the annual town meeting.

Town Administrator Christopher Clark said bringing Lawton in to serve as his assistant will allow Assistant Town Administrator Charleen Greenhalgh to focus on her new position as town planner. Clark said Greenhalgh will continue serving in both capacities for a few weeks while she completes some projects.

Lawton was the town administrator in Yarmouth for 32 years and has often been referred to as the dean of administrators on the Cape. He has also served as the president of the Massachusetts Municipal Managers Association and the Cape Cod Municipal Managers Association.

“I'm looking forward to it,” Lawton told The Chronicle on Monday. “I know all the folks here and enjoy them. I've got to get out and reconnect with them.”

Lawton has experience setting up a housing trust in the town of Yarmouth, and Clark said he's been tasked with helping Harwich set up a trust this year. Voters will be asked to approve Community Preservation Act funding for the trust and a part-time housing coordinator in the May town meeting.

Lawton said the town of Yarmouth has had the housing trust in place since 2007. It's a good way to secure funding from town meeting that can be expended by the trust for the purchase of land, or housing, in a shorter time frame, giving officials the ability to make a purchase without waiting to go to town meeting to obtain funds, he said.

Lawton said he will be working with Clark on internal restructuring and with Building Commissioner Raymond Chesley to fill the vacant position in the building department. He will also look at human resource issues and potentially re-defining the assistant town administrator's job description.

Clark also said Lawton will assist with the town budget and warrant preparation for town meeting.

Lawton served as interim town administrator from July 2013 to January 2014 between the retirement of former town administrator James Merriam and the hiring of Clark. Lawton also said he has worked on an interim basis in Truro with Greenhalgh, where she served as town planner and assistant town administrator for several years.

Lawton will work in the interim capacity two days a week, Clark said. He will be paid $500 a day.