Apr. 8—NEWBURYPORT — The city has found a new building commissioner with a familiar face — former longtime City Councilor Gregory Earls.
Earls spent 16 years on the City Council before resigning in 2019 to move to Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.
"I have been in the building industry most of my adult life and I obviously know the community," Earls said Wednesday. "I was selected to pursue this opportunity, which I think is a great opportunity and I do think I have the knowledge and the experience to follow through with it."
Earls said the Building Department's administrative staff is up to date on all projects and has been very helpful.
"It is an honor to be able to serve the city again," Earls wrote in an email. "I was sad to leave Newburyport after 21 years but I am excited to be able to bring my education, experience and background and once again work in this wonderful environment."
The city has been in the market for a building commissioner ever since Bob Armstrong resigned in October after questions were raised about posts he made on his personal Twitter account. Gary Calderwood, a former building commissioner, was asked to temporarily fill in and has been overseeing the department since Armstrong left.
Now, Earls is working as a building inspector along with another new hire, Dennis Morel Jr.
Mayor Donna Holaday said Earls and Morel are expected to complete their state building inspector certification within the next three months. Earls will also need to complete further studies and exams to be certified as building commissioner, according to Holaday.
"A person has a year to get their certification once they are hired," Holaday said. "Both Greg and Dennis are studying as we speak and they will move forward and get their certification."
The mayor said that Earls and Morel is a major step forward for the city.
"We are rebuilding our Building Department," she said.
Earls has served as a construction supervisor for the Lawrence Family Development and Education Fund, where he has worked since 2013, according to his LinkedIn page.
Prior to that, he was the director of construction for Community Teamwork Inc. in Lowell from 2010 to 2013.
Earls holds a master's degree in architecture from Southern California Institute of Architecture, a bachelor's degree in urban planning from The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, and a bachelor's in business from the University of Connecticut.
Holaday said Earls' familiarity with Newburyport was an important factor when making her hiring decision.
"Greg is well-respected and he has plenty of experience in the construction industry," Holaday said. "He has certification as a construction supervisor, he has his home improvement contractor's license, OSHA 10 certification. He is also certified by the North American Board of Energy Practitioners."
Holaday also said she was "thrilled" to see Earls' application.
"We have had a really, really hard time filling this role," Holaday said. "Some of the people who we interviewed are currently certified as commissioners but I also wanted some new blood. I want people who have high-level tech skills and bring in online permitting and take this department to a new level. He has managed unions and contractors. He just needs to get to the next level in having the appropriate, municipal types of certification."
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.