LENOX -- In what he acknowledges was an abundance of caution, the chairman of the Town Manager Search Committee has suggested that the public avoid Town Hall on Friday while six semifinalists for the position are interviewed behind closed doors in an all-day executive session.
"All candidates have been assured that their identity will be kept confidential by the Search Committee," Chairman Jay Carberry stated in a posted public notice. "Consequently, the committee asks that the public avoid Town Hall if possible on this day."
Carberry said the committee members will be meeting from 8:30 a.m. until about 5:30 p.m. Their mission is to narrow the field down to three finalists, who will be interviewed by the Select Board in a public meeting on Saturday beginning at 8 a.m.
The local search committee will be assisted on Friday by Donald Jutton, president of Municipal Resources Inc., and three members of a professional panel selected by the firm that has acted as a headhunter for the town.
Carberry acknowledged he has had second thoughts about the public notice suggesting that people avoid Town Hall on Friday.
"It was my idea," he said in an interview with The Eagle on Thursday. "Maybe I shouldn’t have done that."
"I don’t think it’s really reasonable," said Town Clerk Jenifer Picard. "But I don’t think there was anything illegal about it. They can request anything they need or want. But, by the same token, we all have a right to come to Town Hall whether we need to, or want to, or whatever.
"I wouldn’t have done it that way," co-interim Town Manager Mary Ellen Deming told The Eagle. "I understand what he was trying to say, but it being a public building and considering human nature, you tell somebody not to do something, they tend to do it."
"I’m sure he was just trying to tell people they’re trying to keep it confidential," she added. "I don’t think he meant anything by it. People still have to come in, pay their taxes and get their dog licenses."
Picard confirmed that she checked the state government website first to make sure Carberry’s request was legal.
"It seems like a request, and that’s all it is," she said. "They’re not saying you can’t come to Town Hall, they have no right to say that. I think people will come because he said it."
Since the notice was posted, Picard said she has heard from several people, including one who told her, "If I need to come to Town Hall, I will."
"I told them they have every right to come in," she added.
Carberry explained that after he sent the notice to Town Hall, "I was thinking people might take offense at it, which I didn’t intend. We’re trying to protect the names of the people who don’t want to be revealed."
"It’s on my head," he added. "I didn’t intend to put people off, but I could easily see how people might take umbrage at it."
Asked if any of the six semifinalists are from Berkshire County and might be recognized, he said that he couldn’t respond one way or the other.
"I just hope it all comes together and they get us a real good town manager," Picard said. "That’s all I care about."
The six semifinalists being interviewed on Friday were drawn from a pool of more than 40 applicants replying to ads about the job opening. The local committee narrowed the list down in stages to six.
The position has been open since last June 21, when Gregory Federspiel left to become town administrator of Manchester by the Sea.
If you go
What: Lenox Town Manager finalist interviews.
Where: Town Hall, 6 Walker St.
When: Saturday, 8 a.m.
Why: The Select Board will interview three finalists for the post in a public session. The three will be chosen from a field of six who will be interviewed Friday behind closed doors by the local Town Manager Search Committee.
How: The Select Board is expected to announce its choice at a public meeting to be scheduled next week.
To contact Clarence Fanto: firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 637-2551. On Twitter: @BE_cfanto