HARWICH — Some offices in town hall will be reconfigured in the next week, Town Administrator Christopher Clark has informed the board of selectmen. The change will better utilize the largest room in the selectmen/administration offices, he said.
“It’s about how we get greater use of space in the building,” Clark told The Chronicle this week.
Under the reconfiguration plan, Clark said Assistant Town Administrator Joseph Powers will relocate from a smaller side office to the one the town administrator presently occupies. Clark will move into the former selectmen’s office and retain the large conference table. Currently he cannot accommodate meetings of six or seven people in the office he now occupies; the bigger room and table will allow that to happen.
“It’s about functionality,” Clark said. “It will create a more effective and functional operation of the administrative agencies of the town.”
The large office on the east side of the front of town hall has traditionally been used by the board of selectmen as a place to review documents. In more recent times it has served as the room the board’s interview subcommittee holds its meetings. Clark said the room is used a couple of hours a week. Clark will now move into the office, opening space for other administrative staff to relocate nearby.
The room does not get used as much by selectmen as in the past due to technology. In the days before selectman's packets were available online, selectmen would spend time in the room reviewing documents and correspondence. Selectmen would also gather there before the weekly meeting to go over materials, sometimes generating discussions that should have been reserved for open sessions. Now selectmen can review the weekly packets in the comfort of their homes without worrying about violating the Open Meeting Law.
Selectmen will have space in the library room at town hall, Clark said. “The library will be a priority location for selectmen, a place where they can read mail.”
Clark said he has mentioned his intentions to Board of Selectmen Chairman Larry Ballantine and Selectman Ed McManus and they have said they do not need the meeting room. As for the interview subcommittee, Clark said it can meet in the library or in one of the public hearing rooms where Channel 18 has the equipment to record meetings.
In his memo to selectmen, Clark said the reconfiguring will create a more cohesive workflow, which includes centralizing the procurement department. Town Engineer Griffin Ryder’s office will be moved from the second floor into the administration offices.
Clark said he put forward the concept about four years ago, but then-Town Engineer Robert Cafarelli requested to remain in the second floor office, which was larger.
With Town Engineer Griffin Ryder and Powers being designated to work closely together on procurement, having their offices adjacent to each other will make for a more functional work environment, Clark said.
Twenty to 25 percent of the town engineer's work is related to plan review and 75 percent is related to project management and helping administration, Clark said. Working together, Ryder and Powers will do a better job with contracts and procurement, he said. The former engineering office on the second floor will become a small conference room as well as being used for the large plotter and for storage.
Clark said signs will be posted explaining the changes to the public.