By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
This week, Marion Town Planner Gil Hilario assumed the role of Town Planner for North Attleborough.
Hilario’s first day on the job was Aug. 10, having stepped down from the Marion position on Aug. 6. In an e-mail sent to the Reporter, Hilario said while the two towns are different, both are facing similar planning challenges. For example, both are working to bring the affordable housing stock to 10 percent. He said that Marion has been very proactive in this and with two projects nearing completion, its housing will soon be well over 10 percent affordable.
“North Attleborough is also a Green Community like Marion,” wrote Hilario. “A key difference is North Attleborough’s business and retail sector, as well as its downtown, that we must keep vibrant.”
When asked about the work done while he was Town Planner, Hilario cited a study he led of the town’s eight pumping stations, all of which are in flood zones with two in the highest rated flood zone. He managed the project with Marion Department of Public Works staff, and the end result was a new design flood elevation for all pumping stations that factored in sea-level rise and climate change.
The hiring of Hilario will mark the third person to take on the role since late last fall. Jennifer Carloni was appointed to the position last November and left the following spring to take the position of City Planner in New Bedford. Nancy Durfee was appointed to the role in June. She announced her resignation on what would have been the first day to remain in Somerset as Town Planner.
At the Town Council meeting on Aug. 9, Town Manager Michael Borg said that after Durfee’s resignation, past applicants had been contacted and Hilario had eagerly responded. He had also been in touch on a regular basis to inquire about the status of the position.
“This is someone genuinely concerned with the future development of the community and making it even better than it is today,” he said.
Marion is town located in Plymouth County. According to the town’s web site, its roots go back to 1679, when the town was first settled as a village known as Sippican, a part of Rochester. Rochester, Mattapoisett and Sippican—widely separate villages under the domain of Rochester—gradually developed different interests and economies. These factors led to independence for Sippican, which was renamed Marion in honor of the Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion, in 1852. Its estimated population, according to the 2019 Census, is 5,188.
Hilario has served as Marion’s grant writer, procuring seven grants totaling approximately $450,000. The money has been used for green energy projects, making buildings ADA compliant, and hazard mitigation plans. He also led the
Energy Management Committee to reduce the town’s energy consumption. Projects which increased energy efficiency were completed at the town’s elementary school, library, and community center.
“Our focus has been for gas/oil conversion projects to electricity to reduce fossil fuel consumption as best we can,” he wrote. “The EMC and I with our facilities manager completed nine projects since our designation in 2018. We’re also working on a solar farm with the Cape Cod & Vineyard Electric Cooperative on our capped landfill where I was the project manager.”
Hilario grew up in Pawtucket, R.I., minutes from South Attleboro and spent a lot of time in the area. He added that he still shops at the Emerald Square Mall.
“I had to apply,” he wrote. “I know all about the local pressures that North Attleborough is facing and believe the Planning Board and I can meet the challenges of the future.”