BRISTOL – Walter Veselka, Public Works Director, and Brian Wilson, Parks Superintendent, will be leaving their positions, Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu confirmed Thursday.
Veselka had been with the Public Works Department for 15 years. Wilson had been the city’s Parks Superintendent for 18 months. The City Council will address these changes at the Nov. 13 City Council meeting.
Mayor Zoppo-Sassu said that she spoke with members of the City Council regarding the personnel changes Thursday.
“Walter Veselka had reached retirement age,” said Zoppo-Sassu. “He still had one year remaining in his four year term, but he has announced that he wanted to retire.”
Zoppo-Sassu acknowledged that Veselka was displeased by a recent charter charge to merge the sewer department.
“I don’t think he liked the idea,” she said. “He was very vocal about it at the charter revision hearing. He believed in the model he had been working with. However, I’m not sure if this is what motivated his decision to retire. If he wasn’t going to retire this November, it would have likely been next November.”
Despite their disagreements, Zoppo-Sassu acknowledged that Veselka was “very innovative” in the way that he ran the department, especially in regards to policy issues and consolidating the budget.
Wilson, Zoppo-Sassu said, has been offered a position with the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. However, he has agreed to continue to work part-time during the transition period.
“He took the position of a forest ranger, which he told me was his dream job,” said Zoppo-Sassu. “Brian was very thoughtful when it came to structuring plans for future projects.”
Zoppo-Sassu said that the city will begin conducting a search for these positions, but that it would not likely be a national search. “There is a lot of talent in this area,” she said.
Regarding the Water Department and Sewer Department, Zoppo-Sassu said that the city will be looking at “better ways of utilizing existing staff” and consolidating. She stressed however that one person will not be managing both departments.
The city has also begun advertising for a new Personnel Director, which will from now on be labeled a “Human Resources Director.” Zoppo-Sassu said that she hopes to have that position filled by Jan. 1.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.