Marion Town Administrator McGrail new Middleboro Town Manager

Oct 11, 2022

MIDDLEBORO — Middleboro has a new town manager.

Marion Town Administrator James McGrail was unanimously selected as Middleboro’s new Town Manager at the Oct. 11 Select Board meeting.  

He will succeed Robert Nunes, who is retiring this month.

McGrail has been Marion’s Town Administrator since 2019. Before that, he was the director of facilities for Sandwich schools from 2018 to 2019 and the executive director of South Shore Country Club in Hingham from 2010 to 2018.

“I’m very excited,’’ McGrail said in an interview minutes after the announcement was made. “It’s very bittersweet because I’ve loved my time in Marion, but I’m very excited for the future. This is a great opportunity for me.’’ 

In his interview for the job on Oct. 4, McGrail said he was drawn to the “stability of the community’’ of Middleboro, both financially and in “how respected the position is’’ within the town.

He praised the people of Marion in his interview but said he was ready to “be in a larger community’’ where he would “not have to wear every hat every day.’’

One challenge, he said in an answer to interview questions, would be to determine what “smart growth’’ should look like in town. 

“It’s critical to make sure that the average tax bill stays where it is’’ and “continues to be lower than the state average.’’ 

One of the biggest issues the town faces, he said, is the state requirement that more housing be made available in communities such as Middleboro, which house MBTA commuter rail lines.

“That’s not something the town can figure out on its own,’’ he said. “We need to work with our state representatives’’ to help them recognize that “it’s not just our problem, it’s their problem too.’’

He cited among his accomplishments in Marion the response to the closing of the town’s Lockheed Martin office, which was the largest employer in the community. Four hundred jobs were relocated when the company moved. 

He worked with town officials, he said, to develop a concept for the site to help attract potential developers. 

The town presented a village-style community housing concept featuring apartments, cottages, townhouses and assisted living. 

McGrail said he creates “teams’’ among the staff he has managed through his various jobs. “I’ve created a family everywhere I’ve gone,’’ he said.

He said he would spend his first six months on the job “building relationships,’’ including with the town staff, and would make an effort to spend time with employees working at the town hall annex. 

“We develop a bond,’’ he said. “You trust me and I trust you.’’ 

Middleboro Select Board Chair Mark Germain and Select Board Member Neil Rosenthal will work to negotiate a contract with McGrail, who said he will officially give his notice in Marion when that agreement is reached. 

Select board members thanked Richard White of Groux-White Consulting, the company hired to oversee the search and bring the top contenders for the board’s consideration. 

Rosenthal praised White’s “masterful handling’’ of the search, “which rose to the level of public service.’’

The other three finalists for the job were: Gregory Enos, Avon Town Administrator; Keith Hickey, Kingston Town Administrator; and Michael McGovern, Shirley Town Administrator.

Select board member Nathan Demers praised all four candidates, echoing a previous sentiment from White that “the quality of applicants is far superior to other searches we’ve done.’’ 

White had said that “any one of the four will serve Middleboro well’’ and that the final choice would come down to which candidate was the best fit for the position. 

Twenty-three individuals applied for the job, including town managers, town administrators, chief financial officers, senior level department heads, a state agency commissioner and a former mayor in the Midwest, White said.