By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
NORTHBOROUGH – The Northborough town snow plows are in storage for the season as the focus of the Department of Public Works (DPW) shifts to pothole patching, tree removal, drain repair, mowing and park maintenance. DPW Director Scott Charpentier has always worked for the best interest of his clients when working in the private sector. For the past five years, his clients have been the 15,000 Northborough residents.
He brought his engineering skills and experience to a municipal position first to the town of Webster, then to Northborough as Assistant DPW Director. A year later, he assumed his current role.
His decision to work in Northborough was based on his seeking a stable community.
“Northborough is well renowned for its financial and political stability,” Charpentier said. “It’s professionals making ethical decisions on fact, not on pressure.”
What does a DPW Director do?
Many residents do not realize how much is involved in a typical day for the DPW crew.
“I address every part of your life,” said Charpentier.
From the water you use in your morning coffee to your burial plot, it’s DPW’s responsibility. Sewer, water, cemetery maintenance, snow and tree removal, and park and roadway maintenance all fall under the purview of the DPW.
Charpentier enjoys working on projects that benefit the community and seeking grants that can be used for improvement plans.
He often goes above and beyond, like working with Boy Scout Eagle Scout candidates on project ideas.
He manages bigger projects for the town, like the current Assabet Park playground reconstruction project.
Charpentier oversees building repair projects, such as the façade replacement at the Town Hall building and repairs needed at White Cliffs.
DPW priorities and challenges
The town has suffered a substantial six-year stretch of tree fatalities due to gypsy moths and drought. Charpentier said that 60-70 trees are removed each year, many needing a tree removal contractor due to tree instability and proximity to power lines and residential homes.
Charpentier continues to seek grant funding, such as the MassDOT Shared Winter Streets and Spaces Grant for funding to improve sidewalks and streets and support safe mobility.
This, too, can sometimes be a challenge because, he said, Northborough is in a good situation financially and environmentally.
Efficiency and collaboration are key
Balancing the budget can also be a challenge.
“I can’t budget for a profit, and I cannot have a loss at the end of year,” said Charpentier. “Resources are limited, but they are adequate and can go further if you find more efficient ways to use them.”
His biggest accomplishments are getting to know the community and collaborating with others.
He cites the Town Common project as one of those accomplishments.
“I worked with a lot of entities in town,” he said. “It was a challenge how to use the portion of the town common appropriately to maintain a reflective area for the war monuments.”
A pandemic, blizzard or windstorm may cause delays, but Charpentier strives to be responsive to residents. Of note is some responses require research and vetting.
“I appreciate the residents of Northborough,” he said. “It’s a great community.”