Stefan Pakulski, former town manager of Readfield, is Hallowell’s new city manager.

City councilors voted unanimously Tuesday night to hire Pakulski, 56, of Wayne, who served as Readfield’s manager from 2003 until he resigned in February.

Pakulski will start Monday and will work alongside Michael Starn, the current manager, for three weeks until Starn’s retirement Oct. 2, according to Mayor Mark Walker.

“We had some good applicants, there was some depth there but Stefan stood out as being right for this position,” Walker said.

Pakulski and the city agreed to a three-year contract that will pay him $67,028 a year, according to Starn.

“It’s a great small city in central Maine, unlike any other place around, and I’m looking forward to getting involved, meeting all the folks there and I think it’s a great opportunity,” Pakulski said Wednesday. “I’ve observed the city council in action. They seem to have a good working process together, and they work effectively to address the concerns of citizens and also the long term objectives of the city. Those things are attractive to me as a manager. You’ve got an engaged group of people, an engaged citizenry, capable people working as city employees in a wonderful natural setting.”

The city received 13 applications in what was its second effort at finding a new manager to take Starn’s spot. In July, Daniel Merhalski, then Denmark’s town manager, backed out of the job about a week after city officials anticipated hiring him. He said another job offer had come up.

Pakulski did not apply for the job the first time around, but decided to seek it after Merhalski declined to take the job.

“I think having a healthy time away from local government helped, frankly,” Pakulski said of why he applied for the job after not doing so when it first opened up in February. “It gave me time to gain perspective on where I’ve been, what a lot of my interests and strengths are. After some time, I started looking around again and we were looking to stay in this area. This is a good opportunity that opened up.”

Pakulski resigned from the Readfield job in February, though the Select Board there initially voted against accepting his resignation. Last year, the Readfield board had voted 3-1 to renew his contract despite the town receiving an “opinion survey” with the signatures of 153 people who didn’t want his contract to be renewed.

While acknowledging the Readfield job had its challenges, especially over the last year or so as new town officials came into leadership, Pakulski said, “We had some great, great work together in the time I was in Readfield. It was nothing but a terrific experience there, overall. Leadership changes are one of the facts of municipal government. Some groups like to build, some like to turn the clock back. Sometimes people who are left over, like me, become not what the new people are looking for.”

Walker said Hallowell’s city manager search committee, of which Councilor George LaPointe served as chairman, looked into Pakulski’s time as manager in Readfield and asked about his resignation.

“The search committee asked those questions and were comfortable with it,” Walker said of Pakulski’s resignation from Readfield. “They had a new makeup of the Select Board there, and they wanted to go in a different direction on the issues.”

Pakulski will work with Starn to help get a feel for the job, city and local issues.

“There is a lot going on in Hallowell, so this will be a good opportunity for him to get his feet wet,” Starn said. “When I started, Todd Shea (former manager) had already left, and it took a while (to get up to speed). I think this will work out well.”

Walker said he saw Pakulski’s background in development, prior to becoming Readfield’s manager, as a major plus, especially with the city currently deciding how the former Stevens School complex could best be marketed and redeveloped.

“He has good experience and a good feel for the issues,” Walker said of why Pakulski should be a good manager for the city. “He has the background on specific issues we know are going to come up. He has experience with development. And we know what’s on our plate, with Stevens School and other issues.”

Pakulski said he is excited about being able to help work on the future of the 64-acre complex which has many vacant, historic buildings.

“I need to learn more about it, but the basic principle, something like that is really central to my interests,” he said. “The work I did internationally was always looking at what kind of assets there are in the community and what can you use to generate new assets. The Stevens School property looks like an opportunity.”

Prior to Readfield, Pakulski worked as community initiative program director for the Rockland-based Island Institute, a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of Maine’s island communities. He previously worked in international economic development.

He is married and has two kids, one in college and the other in high school.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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