Public works director stepping down after 24 years (6/25/09)

Neil Boyden to retire

June 25, 2009

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

When Neil Boyden started working for the town of Williston, there were no big box stores or 100-home subdivisions. The sewer system was still under construction. And the building that now houses Town Hall was an abandoned structure where Grange meetings used to be held.


    Observer photo by Greg Elias
Public Works Director Neil Boyden, shown above in his office, has announced that he plans to retire in October.

Boyden, the public works director, is stepping down after 24 years with the town. He plans to stay on until October, long enough to train his replacement.

“I guess from a purely selfish standpoint, I’m very, very sorry to see him go because he’s just been such an important part of town government for so long,” said Town Manager Rick McGuire. “Part of it is his institutional memory is tremendous. Part of it is he’s the kind of person that gets things done.”

“It’s time to move on to next phase of my life,” Boyden wrote in his resignation letter.

He acknowledged in an interview that eligibility for pension, having reached age 55 with more than 30 total years of government service, played a role in his decision.

The public works director is one of the key positions in Williston’s town government. Boyden heads a department that has more than a dozen employees and a $3.5 million annual budget. The department provides many of the town’s nuts-and-bolts services, including road maintenance, snowplowing and water and sewer infrastructure.

Boyden grew up in Waterbury and Richmond. He attended Norwich University and the University of Vermont.

Boyden worked in the Water and Sewer Department in Richmond for 13 years before being hired by the town of Williston in 1985.

He initially served as Williston’s water and sewer superintendent. Over the next few years, Boyden said he helped oversee completion of the town’s sewer system and form what would become the Public Works Department.

Boyden’s time in Williston has been marked by sweeping changes, as the town was transformed from a rural community to a bustling suburb and commercial center. Over his past two-plus decades with the town, the big-box stores were built, the town’s largest subdivisions were constructed and the building now housing Town Hall was renovated.

Boyden measured the changes in terms of water and sewer connections. He said there were at most 300 residents and businesses on the system when he started; now there are more than 3,000.

Boyden is second on the town’s seniority list. The honor for the longest-serving employee goes to his wife, Kathy, an assistant town clerk who has worked for the town for 37 years.

McGuire said Boyden months ago raised the possibility of retirement but struggled to make a final decision. Boyden said it was an emotional process, which was apparent from the catch in his voice as he described his affection for co-workers and the job itself.

“It was a tough decision,” he said. “I love this job. I live and breathe it.”

McGuire said he is in the beginning stages of the search for someone to fill Boyden’s position. The town will seek candidates from around the nation, although McGuire did not rule out hiring an existing town employee.

Boyden said after he steps down this fall he’ll have more time to spend with family and to pursue favorite pastimes, such as fishing. He said he may eventually find another job, perhaps a part-time position with considerably less overtime and responsibility.

“I’m going on to something different,” Boyden said. “I just don’t know what it is yet.”