Civics Sunday: Holliston’s New Town Administrator Hits the Ground Running
Travis Ahern, Holliston’s new Town Administrator, was sworn in on July 2, and joined the Select Board, Finance Committee, various representatives from town Boards, Committees, and departments, and a quorum of residents at the July 20 Town Meeting for his first day in his new role. With only 3-weeks time on the job, it seems that he’s already grasped so much of what is going on in Holliston.
Attracted to the job posting developed by Community Paradigm Associates, Ahern was keenly interested. He said, “The way the position statement was written, including ‘master planning,’ ‘finance,’ and ‘water,’ aligned well” with his skills and interests. An earlier home search of the areas surrounding Danvers, his work place at the time, gave him the opportunity to view a little of Holliston’s real estate market and learn a bit about the town.
Prior to joining the town of Holliston, Ahern kept up to date with the goings on by reading the Holliston Reporter and watching meetings recorded by Holliston’s cable access channel (HCAT) of the Select Board, School Committee, and Finance Committee. He was very complimentary of the service HCAT brings to town.
We discussed Ahern’s short and long term goals for his new position. In the short term, Ahern is most concerned with continuing services and protecting the staff through the time of COVID 19 as well as the town’s economic health. Ahern works closely with Emergency Management Director Chief Michael Cassidy and Scott Moles and the Board of Health in these efforts.
Ahern is also looking at the various “players” in the process of administering the town and building efficient communications with each. Ahern enumerated several short-term priorities: upcoming elections, online services, contract negotiations with unions, and health care for employees.
It is Ahern’s perception that the most important part of his job as Administrator is to “think long term.” Given time and conversation, he will examine how Boards, Committees, and Departments “mesh together” and effect communication, eventually developing an organizational configuration that enables the pieces to be more efficient.
Ahern provided two recent examples of assembling the various “management staff” involved in the Lowland Industrial Park Traffic Forum, planned for August 25, and in the nascent planning for the #555 plot in the Hopping Brook Industrial Park. (Ironically, perhaps, both involve the issue of traffic.) As one of the Select Board’s purviews is highway surveyance, as the Planning Board issues permits, as the Town Planner directs economic development, and so forth, the interrelationships among them all are intricate and vital in both of these examples. Getting all involved in one place at one time should help communication and understanding for all involved.
Looking ahead to post-COVID 19 days, Ahern is “rethinking the master plan for Holliston, since ours is now over 20 years old.” Developing the new vision may involve creating a survey and getting feedback from the community, locating appropriate grants for funding, and simply “thinking beyond the challenges that span a decade.” In his dealings with everyone, Ahern believes, “Everyone is invested [in Holliston] being all it can be.”
Ahern lives in Wayland with his wife, two children, ages 1½ and 4, and Tucker, their black lab.
To get in touch with the Town Administrator, Ahern said it’s best to email him, but phone will work as well. He’s considering other ways to communicate with residents—perhaps some sort of a newsletter or a periodic update.