Finalist For Asst. Town Administrator Visits Rec Commission; Everyone Left Happy

Photo: Jon Marshall, the finalist for Asst. Town Administrator’s job.

The lead finalist for Belmont’s Assistant Town Administrator visited the town on Monday, Dec. 3 and impressed the group who he’d be working closely if he gets the nod.

Jon Marshall, the director of recreation in neighboring Arlington came to talk with Belmont’s Recreation Commission at its monthly meeting Monday to discuss his background and ideas if he lands the job to be Town Administrator Patrice Garvin’s right-hand.

While the meeting was billed as “a discussion with the Commission,” town officials noted that Marshall was the only candidate given the chance to talk with the group as he is the frontrunner for the position. 

In a curious aside, Belmont’s former assistant town administrator Phyllis Marshall was appointed Arlington’s town treasurer in October. 

And after talking for about 40 minutes, everyone from Marshall to the commission members were happy with what they heard.

“It was a great meeting with the commission,” said Marshall after the get-together. “I heard their thoughts on the community and things they’d like to see improved. There are things that we both can accomplish and hopefully, I will get the chance moving forward.” 

Marshall’s resume and background appear to match what Garvin said she was looking for in an assistant who would focus most of their time overseeing the Recreation Division, which is part of the Department of Public Works. Marshall has led Arlington’s rec programs since Sept. 2016, after working as the director of the Recreation & Parks Department in his hometown of Natick for four and a half years after being the department’s Program Director for seven years. During this time, Marshall served as the president and legislative chair of the Massachusetts Recreation & Park Association.

Marshall earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Salve Regina University in Newport, RI, and a Certificate in Public Administration from Suffolk University.

The Recreation Division had undergone changes about 18 months ago in how the department is run and while complaints from residents on the range of services and how many of the programs have “gone stale” over time, “we see this as a work in progress,” said June Howell, recreation programs supervisor.

“We are on the right track but we need help moving forward,” said Howell. Marshall said part of the problem is requiring a small staff to do at times an overwhelming number of tasks.

“Sometimes the ability to take a step back and refocus, then get a view of the landscape of what’s going on in the community and then saying ‘let’s tackle it’,” said Marshall. One area that “really excites me in Belmont” is the opportunity to start non-sports programs as they do in Arlington. 

Marshall has also experience in keeping programs running despite the loss of space as what happened in Arlington. Belmont will soon be under the same constraints once construction for the new 7-12 school building begins in June. 

At times, the discussion appeared as if the commissioners viewed Marshall as the town’s next recreation director, peppering him with questions on how he would revamp the inner workings of the division to attract residents to its variety of programs and facilities.

But Marshall said his job would be to “drive the vision for the department while working to support the staff and the commission to make sure that some of the ideas and thoughts we come up with move forward.”