By James Niedzinski
---- — MANCHESTER — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday night during a brief meeting to offer a conditional contract to Gregory T. Federspiel, now town manager of Lenox, to become the new town administrator in Manchester.
Federspiel came from a list of lengthy candidates, the search firm Municipal Resources Inc. initially started out with 80 applicants in a months-long search. The search firm and a citizens panel, appointed by selectmen, all brought back the same names for the top six candidates.
Selectmen met Tuesday night, in both open and executive session, to discuss the three final candidates.
Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Susan Thorne said some items discussed in the close session were the contractual needs of each candidate and background information. Voters approved $125,000 for the position’s salary at the recent Annual Town Meeting as part of the town’s budget for fiscal 2014, which begins July 1.
Thorne said that amount is not necessarily Federspiel’s salary as the contract negotiation process could take a couple of weeks, Thorne said.
The Board agreed all the final candidates were highly qualified, but Federspiel was just a right fit for Manchester. The other two finalists for the position were Sean Fitzgerald, now the Plaistow, N.H., town manager and a one-time Peabody mayoral candidate, and current Georgetown Town Administrator Michael Farrell.
Selectwoman Mary Hardwick said Federspiel has shown a cooperative attitude throughout his time in Lenox.
“I loved his resume, and I loved his town report,” she said.
“Certainly, one candidate presented himself better than the others,” selectmen Tom Kehoe said.
Thorne joked that a big disappointment was that she will not be able to work with him; Thorne and Hardwick are not seeking rew-election to their board seats.
The position opened up when Town Administrator Wayne Melville announced that he was stepping down last November. Melville has been serving as the town’s interim administrator since, with his ending salary pegged at $115,000.
In Lenox, Federspiel has served as manager for a town of 5,077 in the center of the Berkshires — a community that his home to, among other landmarks, the Tanglewood Music Center, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a number of historic mansions, and the Canyon Ranch spa.
According to the online news site iBerksheries.com, Federspiel had been the town manager in Stowe, Vt., since the 1980s before accepting his Lenox position in 1999. He is a native of Flint, Mich, and a graduate of Dartmouth College and Antioch College in New Hampshire.
According to reports in the Salem News, sister paper to the Times, he was also candidate and one of two finalists for the town administrator position in Ipswich last year.
Federspiel could not be reached for comment as of press time Wednesday.
Selectmen hope he will be taking over for Melville in the coming weeks, should he accept the position.
“Realistically, we won’t have anyone sitting in the chair until June 1,” Thorne said.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.