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January 08. 2014 8:33PM

Retiring

Longtime Goffstown selectman won't seek re-election


Philip D'Avanza is keeper of many of the state's clock towers. (UNION LEADER FILE)

GOFFSTOWN — After serving the town for 23 years, Selectman Phil D'Avanza has decided not to seek re-election in March. D'Avanza said the main reasons for giving up his seat are his growing business, D'Avanza Clock Repair, and his family.

"I am now the proud grandfather of a 4-year-old granddaughter. She is a joy to my life and I want to spend more time with her," he said. "It has been a great ride for me and I have been honored by Goffstown folks' support of me throughout the years."

D'Avanza and his family moved to Goffstown about 30 years ago. He grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City, and found rural Goffstown an ideal location to raise a family.

"I remember when the covered bridge was in town. You had the town hall with the nice clock tower and the covered bridge across the street. It's the missing link between the river and the rail trail," he said.

Formerly working in the tool and die industry, D'Avanza started his clock repair business in 1989. He has repaired the Goffstown Town Hall clock tower and several historic tower projects from Amherst and Mont Vernon to Lebanon and Franklin, and in Massachusetts. D'Avanza has also repaired many clocks in Manchester, including the old Ash Street school building, and received the Historic Preservation Award in 1994 from the Manchester Historic Association for his dedication to preservation efforts.

D'Avanza began his public service in 1989 when he was appointed to the Industrial Council by the Board of Selectmen. In 1990, he was appointed to the Budget Committee and the Solid Waste Commission, and in 1991 he was elected to a two-year term as a selectman to fill the vacated seat of Paul Smith, who was serving in the Gulf War.

D'Avanza first became interested in serving his community when the town was on the threshold of change in character and its economy.

"The town was facing the closure of the landfill along with pressure from the state for a solid waste plan. I was concerned that the low commercial and industrial tax base in Goffstown would attract any type of industry for its potential tax revenue, such as the large regional mass-burn incinerator that was proposed to the Planning Board by Wheelabrator," he said.

Over the years, D'Avanza has seen the town grow and, as a board member, he has helped solve many of the issues facing Goffstown. As the nation was undergoing economic issues in the early 1990s, D'Avanza helped guide the town to economic stability, while keeping taxes manageable.

"The recession of 1990 made it tough to provide the service residents were accustomed to while keeping the tax rate level," he said. "We were faced with a worn out fleet of vehicles at Public Works: six Mack trucks that were used to haul sand daily from the pit in Grasmere to the landfill in Pinardville, a broken sidewalk plow and a grader that would not go a day without a breakdown. There were only two replacement trucks in the budget. We were able to lease-purchase new trucks, a sidewalk plow and grader with a provision that the vehicles would be returned if not funded in a future year."

D'Avanza said the town is now in "excellent financial condition."

"We have not had a management letter from our auditors for three years. We have a top bond rating with a very low debt load," he said.

His goal of helping to maintain Goffstown's unique character as a safe place to live, work and raise a family has attracted many people and businesses to town. He said during his term the board has accomplished many of the things it set out to do, including building the transfer station in 1992, the relocation of Henry Bridge Road, establishing the Goffstown TV cable access channel, seeing the Board of Selectmen members increase from three to five members in 1994, fulfilling the adoption of ballot voting through SB2, bringing automated solid waste collection to town, rehabilitating the upper elementary school building into elderly housing, seeing the closure of the landfill and reusing the land for ball fields, and re-establishing a certified K-9 team.

In addition, he feels he can leave the board knowing it's in good hands.

"The town has an active solid waste/recycling committee and an active Economic Development Council that work with the selectmen to find solutions as issues come up in the future," he said.

The board works as a team with Town Administrator Susan Desruisseaux and department heads, a combination that makes Goffstown a viable community, said D'Avanza.

"The town employees make the town work to serve the community. They are an asset to the town as they will go above and beyond when needed," he said.

In addition, he serves on the board of directors of the New Hampshire Municipal Association and as a trustee of Property Liability Trust with New Hampshire Municipal Association, and as a member of the Planning and Environmental Policy Committee, and the Municipal Advocacy Committee.

He hopes residents will consider filling his seat by throwing their hats into the ring during the candidate filing period from Jan. 22 through 5 p.m. on Jan. 31, at the town clerk's office. He offers potential candidates some advice.

"Make your family the first priority by blocking their time off first on your calendar. You will be asked to attend many meeting and events so make sure that they do not consume your time and overwhelm you.

"Do not take things personally and learn to 'roll with the flow,'" he said.

sclark@newstote.com


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