HARVARD -- It isn't a job description yet. But the professional qualifications, duties and expectations the Planning Board has for the part-time consultant/planner they aim to hire for a one-year period gave a good indication of what the job will entail, if and when the position becomes permanent.
The board hashed out the details Tuesday night, with advertising set to go and a Request for Proposals for Master Plan consultants pending.
They're looking for a lot of bang for the bucks they have to spend: $40,000 approved at Town Meeting earlier this year, when voters gave the Planning Board a green light to hire a professional planner as a consultant for a year, presumably to see how it works out. Hopefully, the consultant planner will pave the way for the permanent position they've been lobbying for, board members said, even if the consultant doesn't land the job.
Among other things, candidates should be well educated and experienced in the field and prepared to pitch in to help the Planning Board, to which he or she will report.
With the second phase of the Master Plan process getting underway, the consultant planner will also be expected to assist other consultants and the Master Plan Steering Committee and subgroups such as the Economic Development Committee with a variety of planning-related tasks, including work on the 2014 Master Plan, Phase Two.
Other duties will include - but won't be limited to - implementation of the 2002 Master Plan and other existing initiatives, such as the 2005 Town Center Action Plan.
The new hire must be able to read and understand technical drawings and maps and demonstrate solid written and oral communication and inter-personal skills, members said, in order to participate in sub-division reviews and outreach aimed at economic development in the commercial district.
And then there's Devens. The planner will be expected to take an active role in the town's ongoing struggle to decide what it wants - as a town - in terms of disposition. That is, will the town take back jurisdiction of its historic boundaries once MassDevelopment ends its involvement with the former military base, leaving behind vast acreage and infrastructure, including buildings, businesses and private residences, most of which are in Harvard? Or will the town back a different disposition plan?
With pros and cons to every scenario, Devens disposition has been a controversial issue with a complex history. The enabling state legislation - Chapter 498 - spells out rules for MassDevelopment's interim governance and procedures for staging its exit and the law states who gets a say in the final determination of Devens' future. But there are other entities involved besides Harvard that might not see eye to eye on Devens issues, including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, "host" towns of Ayer and Shirley and the Devens community. Once on board, the new planner will not only have to get into the thick of it all but get up to speed as well.
The list goes on, but that's the gist of it. In addition, the individual they hire will be expected to network with other planners, keep up with current planning trends, regionally, state wide and beyond, track related legislation and on occasion attend workshops, with Planning Board approval, of course. "We wouldn't want to pay for professional development" to prepare the person for another job, Chairman Kara McGuire Minar pointed out.
The timeline the Planning Board agreed on calls for running ads first, then sending out the RFP, after which they will review applications. They expect to do so concurrently with the hiring process for Master Plan consultants, which they have budgeted for and with whom the new planner will be expected to coordinate. With wheels set in motion, the process should be completed by mid September.