WEST WARWICK — After months without a permanent town planner, the West Warwick Town Council voted unanimously this week to appoint Marilyn Shellman to what the town manager called a “very important position."
“I’m looking forward to working here,” said Shellman, who filled the same role in Westerly for years. “You’ve got some interesting projects coming forward.”
The town planner position in West Warwick has been vacant since Mark Carruolo’s resignation last fall after seven years on the job — he now serves as the town planner in North Smithfield.
Following “extensive advertising and some recruitment,” West Warwick Town Manager Mark Knott said during Tuesday’s council meeting, an interview panel a couple of weeks ago met with a few candidates for the position.
The panel — which in addition to Knott included the town’s personnel director, CDBG coordinator, the interim planner, town councilor Mark Bourget and the chairs of the planning board and the Arctic Village Redevelopment Agency — agreed that Shellman is the one for the job, Knott said.
“We unanimously feel that we’d like to request the appointment [of] Marilyn Shellman,” he told councilors. “We feel she’s qualified and comes with an acceptable background to successfully fill a very important position.”
Bourget echoed that.
“She answered all of our questions very well,” he said, adding that panelists asked Shellman questions that were both planning- and non-planning-related to ensure that she’ll “be on the ball.”
A Rhode Islander since 1976 and current resident of North Kingstown, Shellman has more than 20 years of experience in the fields of planning, economic development and landscape architecture. She holds a master’s degree in community planning and a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture, both from the University of Rhode Island.
“I’ve had an interesting career,” said Shellman, whose resume includes work in both the private and public sectors.
Shellman served as the town planner in Westerly, where she helped oversee significant development, for around 14 years before retiring from the position in 2017.
“I have a heavy background in engineering as well, even though I’m not an engineer,” she said. “I very much believe in cooperating with my solicitor and making sure that the town does not have any liability issues.”
Shellman also spent time in the field of landscape architecture working for two Rhode Island School of Design professors. Her experience ranges from historic preservation, to hazard mitigation, to erosion and sediment control, she said.
“I’ve enjoyed my profession,” Shellman told councilors as they prepared to vote on her appointment. “I’m looking forward to serving your community.”