Lee/Lenox shared building commissioner to step down

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After four months of double duty, Don Fitzgerald is leaving his position as building commissioner for Lee and Lenox, possibly as early as this summer.

Fitzgerald has informed both towns his wife's job with Sabic in Pittsfield is being relocated to Houston, but he and town officials hope he's around long enough to afford a smooth transition with his successor.

"We want to keep him here as long as possible pursuant to our policies of budgeting for an overlapping tenure between critical department head personnel, which Don certainly is," said Lenox Town Manager Christopher Ketchen.

Ketchen and Lee Town Administrator Robert Nason say the commissioner's job along with the joint Lee/Lenox inspector /zoning enforcement officer position are being posted. Jeff Clemons is currently second in command under Fitzgerald and is expected to apply for the commissioner's job.

"Jeff may be the one to move up to commissioner or stay in his current position — either way we will have a new hire," Nason said.

Since Jan. 1, Fitzgerald has been building commissioner for the neighboring municipalities, the first result of a tri-town shared-services agreement Lee and Lenox ratified last fall. Currently, Stockbridge — the third member of the tri-town pact — is not participating, but it could choose to be added to the mix at a later date.

Fitzgerald is technically an employee of Lenox earning an annual salary of $59,738, shared 50-50 with Lee. The same holds true for the combined inspector/zoning enforcement officer job.

The joint building commissioner/local inspector arrangement is similar to the Tri-Town Health Department, set up decades ago, whereby Lee is the host community and the staffers are town employees. Lenox and Stockbridge pay Lee their share of the department budget.

Unlike Tri-Town Health, which operates from a single office, Lee and Lenox maintain separate building department offices to field inquiries and process permit requests from contractors, home- and business owners within each community.

A contractor by trade, Fitzgerald has worked in the Lenox Building Department since 2007 and was a strong advocate for the shared building commissioner concept. The Schenectady, N.Y., native found it a natural progression of existing cooperation between the towns.

"There was always this mutual aid scenario," he said. "I would be appointed Lee's alternate commissioner and Lee's would be appointed our alternate."

Fitzgerald said the shared commissioner and inspector duties is working — and it comes at a crucial time when both towns' building departments are handling an increase in building permit requests due to an improved economy.

Ketchen praised Fitzgerald for having the energy and right personality to implement the towns' shared services venture.

"I think having him in office at the time we made the transition was crucial," Ketchen said. "It took someone with his passion for public service to work through the changes that we made at the time we made them."

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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