After Peter Hechenbleikner gave his town manager’s report to the Board of Selectmen last night, he gave them some personal news. He will retire in a year, on June 1, 2013.
He has served for more than 25 years as the town manager, an uncommon feat, according to last night’s discussion.
Hechenbleikner will turn 65 in the fall, he told the selectmen. He wants to give them about a year’s notice – plenty of time, he said, to choose his successor.
Selectmen Chairman Stephen Goldy thanked Hechenbleikner for his 25-plus years of service. The town is in great shape, he said, and growing.
The town manager's announcement “may not be a surprise,” said Selectmen James Bonazoli, “but it is a shock to the system.” It will be the change of an era for Reading, he said. “We have been blessed," he continued, “to have you lead the community.” People move here, he said, because of the structure Hechenbleikner helped build with his leadership.
It will be hard to find a new town manager of the same caliber, said Selectman Ben Tafoya.
Not many people stay in one job for 25 years these days, commented Selectman John Arena.
Some people stay -- but not for “good reasons,” Hechenbleikner responded. When he took the job, three years was the average length of tenure, he said.
He recommended that the selectmen set up a subcommittee to work on issues related to his year-away retirement.
"I’m somewhat of an expert on this,” he said, having spoken on the topic to the Massachusetts Municipal Association. He will not participate in the screenings for his successor.
The board appointed Selectmen Ben Tafoya and John Arena to the subcommittee.
The town manager will share his decision with town staff Wednesday.
After Hechenbleikner retires, he plans to remain a Reading resident and, he told Patch, “keep busy in my profession.”