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Hingham hires Mary Savage Dunham as planning director

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  October 26, 2012 04:35 PM

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Hingham officials have named Mary Savage Dunham, a Quincy native who has been working in Connecticut, as the town's community planning director.

Hingham started searching for a new planning director in July, after Katy Lacy took a job with the state.

Of the 49 initial applicants, an interview panel, consisting of the Town Administrator Ted Alexiades,Human Resource Director David Basler, Planning Board Chairman Judy Sneath, and Personnel Board member Jack Manning, narrowed the number to the nine who were interviewed by the board.

From there, the applicants were narrowed down to four, who were brought in for a public meeting on Oct. 2.

“They presented a problem we gave them as a means for us to … get a sense of their problem-solving capabilities in an open meeting forum and for us to see how they would research an issue and discuss a development with developer and the town,” Alexiades said. “We were very impressed with all four candidates, it was a tough decision, but we felt Mary’s background was the best fit and her skill set was the best fit for our organization.”

A professional planner with over 20 years of experience in planning and zoning, Dunham currently is the Town Planner and Zoning Enforcement officer for the town of Southington, Conn., where she has worked since 2007.

In her town, she has overseen or worked with Planning, Zoning, Engineering, Conservation, Public Works, and Historical departments, and holds a Master's in Urban and Regional Planning with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography/Planning.

As South Shore native, Dunham is born in Quincy and described the South Shore as her home.

“I am familiar with Hingham as I have visited, shopped, and passed through on the way to Nantasket for years. I have seen business come and go, and watched the evolution of the downtown area,” she said in her cover letter to the town.

Alexiades said Dunham is more than equipped to handle the difficulties the role entails, including the Avalon Bay proposal currently making its way through town, developments occurring at the shipyard, and the discussion of a sewer treatment collection system in South Hingham.

She will also have a role in the development of the Derby Street corridor and the state funded program currently ongoing in that area.

While Alexiades said he is excited that Dunham will be joining the Hingham team, he said the department would not have been able to function in the interim without the help of the staff.

“I’m very appreciative of the entire staff within Community Planning Department. Each individual stepped up, looked out for each other, covered office times, and did the best we could without the director. Her responsibilities fell to me during that time. I am not a planner, so I’m very proud of them and I’m very appreciative of the extra effort all of them contributed over the last three months,” Alexiades said.

Dunham will start in the position on Nov. 26.

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