By Brenda Crowell
In his first month as Upton’s Town Manager, Joseph Laydon has had a lot on his plate.
“It’s only been last month that we went through Town Meeting and approved the fiscal year 2023 budget,” Laydon said, “but we’re already planning for the next year and identifying what departments will need for resources.”
Laydon took over for former Town Manager Derek Brindisi, who accepted the same position in Plymouth. Before coming to Upton, Laydon was the Assistant Town Administrator for Littleton, where he also served as Interim Town Administrator.
“Everyone in Upton has been extremely welcoming and very receptive to my coming on board. I’ve had a lot of people come in just to introduce themselves, to talk as far as expressing the history of the town and some of the important issues,” he said. “It has been an absolute pleasure joining the town. There are so many things that are going on.”
Currently, Laydon sees his biggest challenge coming from several staffing vacancies.
“We have open positions, everything from police officers to paramedics to clerical to lifeguards to financial positions that all need to be filled, and those open positions cause pressure within those departments to do their work,” said Laydon. “If you have a vacancy in one, there are people picking up slack. The labor market is so tough. Not a lot of people are applying for positions, so we need to come up with contingency plans and ways to ensure work continues while we’re trying to fill those positions.”
While he works to help fill those vacancies and to become more familiar with the town and its residents, Laydon is already looking forward to November’s Special Town Meeting.
“My priority is to get up to speed so I can support the boards and departments in the town,” he said. “We’re coming up on the Special Town meeting. There may be priorities that need to be in front of that meeting, and the window is closing for that warrant in a few months.”
Residents who have attended the last two meetings of the Board of Selectmen, or looked at the meeting agendas online, might have noticed that besides listing the schedule for the meetings, the agendas now include an information packet with supporting paperwork for many agenda items.
“That was something I brought from Littleton,” Laydon explained. “Even in my prior positions, I always tried to make sure information was available, and that board members had as much information as possible, and some level of analysis and support and recommendations. So far, people have been receptive to receiving that information.”
While he’s new to Upton, Laydon’s 14th anniversary as a Northbridge resident is approaching.
“I’ve been in the region for a lot longer than I like to admit. I’ve seen a lot of changes, not only in my hometown of Sutton, but in adjacent communities, over the last 40 years,” he said. “I’m happy to be working back in the Blackstone Valley. This is a place I’ve wanted to land for a while. I’ve always thought of Blackstone Valley as my home.”
Much of Laydon’s previous work was in the metro west area closer to Boston, so he spent a lot of time commuting. Working in Upton will allow him to spend more time with his three daughters.
“I’m extremely happy that I’m here,” Laydon added. “Many of the goals and visions that the town has really align with some of the things I’ve not only had experience with but also really value. I consider myself lucky to have this opportunity.”