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.”

Obituary: Ernie S. D’Agnelli, A Recreation Department Fixture Who Lived For Belmont

Photo: Ernie S. D’Agnelli.

If you or your children spent any time participating in an activity run by Belmont Recreation, you would have come across the big personality of “Ernie D.” For nearly a half-century, Ernie D’Agnelli was a driving force at the Recreation Division, from running it’s summer programs, maintaining the resemblance of order at the Field House to volunteering to cook the BBQ at the opening of the pool season.

“Ernie loved Belmont. He grew up here, went to school here, was a star on the sports fields and later became a coach for Belmont Marauder teams. More importantly, he was a mentor and role model to so many young people over the years,” said June Howell, his longtime friend and work colleague.

Ernie S. D’Agnelli, who touched the lives of generations of residents with his kindness and wide smile, died on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. He was 64.

The cause was a heart attack, said Howell at Monday’s Recreation Commission meeting. 

For 41 years, D’Agnelli was a physical education teacher at the Maimonides School in Brookline. Known as Mr. D, he was an almost legendary personality at the private Jewish day school. But his heart was in the “Rec Department,” said Howell, where he had worked since he was a teenager. He started as a park instructor while in high school and later developed and ran the town’s first summer programs. He could be found at the Field House organizing games for adults during the week and supervising kids on Thursday nights at Open Gym. If there was a program that needed someone to run it, D’Agnelli was there to take on the task.

“He lived for Belmont,” said Howell on Monday.

D’Agnelli was raised in town and graduated from Belmont High School in 1972, where he was a Hall of Fame athlete. He matriculated and played football at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, graduating in 1976. He was an avid fan of Natick and Belmont sports, and for many years was an intricate part of several Belmont youth sports programs.

“We have missed his presence here in the office since his retirement but we will never forget his smile, his booming laugh or the impact he had on our lives,” said Howell.

D’Agnelli is survived by his wife Lynne M. D’Agnelli and their children Kristin Talarico and her husband Lucas, Kerrin D’Agnelli and Lindsay D’Agnelli. He was grandfather of Jack, Co, a and Colin Talarico. He was a son of the late Ernest and Angela D’Agnelli, brother of Lisa Kazanovicz and her husband John of Reading and Andrea Vona and her husband Kevin of Belmont. Also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Visiting hours will be in the Brown & Hickey Funeral Home 36 Trapelo Rd. in Belmont on Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. A funeral mass will be celebrated in St Joseph Church, 128 Common St. on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. The burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his memory to the Maimonides School c/o Development Office, 34 Philbrick Rd. Brookline MA 02445.