The Oak Bluffs select board unanimously appointed Garrett Albiston as the town’s new conservation agent, filling the role that has been vacant for nearly six months.
Albiston moved to the Island three years ago. His education is in natural resources management and environmental planning. He previously worked in Oregon as a state park ranger. He worked with the town’s shellfish department as a part-time deputy shellfish constable before taking a job as assistant health agent.
“I think it’s really important to be a steward of our environment, and it’s what I really enjoy doing — taking care of the environment and issues that have to do with that,” Albiston said.
Conservation commission member Terry Appenzellar told the select board the commission was looking for a strong administrator that is well-versed in local bylaws, the state wetlands protection act, and permitting. Appenzellar said the commission has been working hard over the past six months as the town searched for a new conservation agent.
“In our interview with [Albiston], we all felt extremely strongly that he has a very good understanding, being a town employee already and being on one of the regulatory boards, of what it takes to do this kind of work,” Appenzellar said.
Select board member Gail Barmakian said Albiston was the most qualified applicant for the position.
The salary range for the conservation agent position was listed at $68,382 to $73,288. Town administrator Deborah Potter did not have the final number of Albiston’s salary.
Albiston’s hire comes eight months after the town hired Elisabeth Peterman, a former senior planner for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Commission chair Joan Hughes said Peterman had a great deal of experience, but lived in Rhode Island.
“It turned out to be an insurmountable difficulty for her to come to the Island. Even in a time of virtual meetings, there are site visits, a lot of paperwork that needs to be done, and a lot of it needed to be done in the town hall,” Hughes said. “It simply didn’t work out. It was a serious distance thing.”
This time around, the town was searching for a candidate who was on-Island.
“I’m looking forward to doing my best for the board and doing my job well,” Albiston said.