The Wellesley Board of Public Works has appointed longtime DPW employee Dave Cohen as the new Director of Public Works, succeeding Mike Paktstis who retired last month after about 20 years on the job. Cohen, a 23-year veteran of the DPW, has been serving as Assistant Director of Public Works. His responsibilities will include maintenance and improvement of all assets and infrastructure under the control of the Board of Public Works.
Separately, Planning Director Michael Zehner has accepted a job as director of planning in Nags Head, N.C., and will be leaving his job in Wellesley on Feb. 12. Zehner, who has spent many quality days and nights working on Wellesley’s Housing Production Plan, Unified Plan and 40B responses, is no stranger to the south. He and his wife are from the same town in Virginia. Zehner attended school and has worked in Virginia, and also did a stint as planning director in Belville, N.C. before starting work for Wellesley in 2009.
“Nags Head is one of several coastal communities on the Outer Banks peninsula/barrier islands, so I will certainly be dealing with a fair share sea-level rise and coastal resiliency issues,” Zehner says. “While North Carolina does not have anything similar to the Commonwealth’s 40B statute, addressing housing affordability will be on my to-do list as the Town is a vacation destination and depends on a stable seasonal workforce, not to mention the housing needs of year-round residents.”
Zehner says he has treasured his time in Wellesley.
“I’ll be taking my fair share of memories from Wellesley with me, successes here with the Town, but also the fact that my two children were born at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Wellesley was their first ‘hometown,'” he says.
Zehner says there’s a lot to be done in his remaining few weeks, including continued work on pending 40B proposals, continuing to assist in the development of the proposal for the Wellesley Office Park, preparing zoning articles for this spring’s Town Meeting, and completing edits to the forthcoming final version of the Unified Plan. “The staff in the Planning Department is excellent and things will be left in more than capable hands,” he adds.
Michael’s been super helpful to The Swellesley Report over the years explaining the nearly unexplainable, and we wish him well.
The Planning Board is working on a plan to replace him.