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New planner ready to field environmental issues

Lela ShepherdShepherd

Meet Lela Shepherd, who began work Sept. 5 as the town's new environmental planner and conservation agent.

She enters the reshaped position after moving to the Boston following a year in Copenhagen working on a climate-change project sponsored by municipal grant funds.

"I am motivated by the passion I see for the environment from the Arlington community," Shepherd said in a Sept. 11 town news release. "As an environmental planner, I focus on place-making through sustainable environmental initiatives. I believe in leaving this world better than we found it and I'm excited to play my part."

The foundation of this job is not new, Caryn Molloy, the town's human-resources director, wrote Sept. 12 -- it is based on Conservation Commission work, which Cori Beckwith did 23 hours weekly for 15 years until she retired last December.

The current full-time position augments the conservation work with added environmental-planning duties. Outside of special projects or tasks, duties of the position will be evenly split between Conservation Commission and environmental-planning tasks.

Shepherd will provide technical and administrative support to the Conservation Commission and environmental planning functions for the town. She will assist with coordinating a range of town sustainability and environmental efforts in town and assist the ConCom in its administration and enforcement of the state Wetlands Protection Act, the Arlington Bylaw for Wetlands Protection and management of property under ConCom management or control.

Diverse experience

Shepherd has experience working on a diverse range of environmental projects for nonprofits, consultancies and municipalities throughout the country and overseas.

Originally a native of Washington state, she completed her bachelor’s degree in international development from DePaul University in Chicago and her master’s degree in urban planning, focused on land use and environmental planning, from the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

The position pays $64,441 annually and is funded in the current fiscal-year budget.

The town Department of Planning and Community Development is committed to improving the quality of life for Arlington's residents by improving housing opportunities, transportation access, economic development to enhance the vitality of our business districts and generate commercial tax revenue, providing opportunities for low and moderate income households, and preserving and promoting the town's natural, historic and cultural resources.

The department focuses on planning, redevelopment and creating future development opportunities. The department oversees various planning and community development activities within Arlington, including implementing the master plan, Mass. Ave. Phase II planning, Complete Streets and a range of efforts in town business districts.

Sidebar on energy

ACMi's Arlington Public News interviews Ken Pruitt,
new town energy and project manager

The department has 13 full-time and two part-time staff members. Staff supports the Arlington Redevelopment Board and manages three town buildings: Jefferson Cutter House, Central School and 23 Maple St.

For more information about the department, go to

This news announcement was published  Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017.

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