UPPER GWYNEDD — The start of 2019 will bring new leadership for Upper Gwynedd Township, the board of commissioners announced Monday night.

Board President Ken Kroberger announced that Township Manager Mike Lapinski "has left" that position, and a search for the township's next manager has begun.

"He is no longer here. That's all I can tell you. I can tell you also that there's no separation agreement or anything else like that. He's no longer here," Kroberger said.

Lapinski could not be reached for comment by press time. Other Upper Gwynedd Township officials did not return requests for comment.

Lapinski was named to be the permanent township manager in June 2018, after taking over on an interim basis following the retirement of prior Manager Len Perrone at the end of 2017. Lapinski was originally hired in May 2013 as assistant manager after working for a dozen years before as an administrator in Princeton, N.J., and previous time spent as a project manager on a portion of the “Big Dig” highway project in Boston. 

Alex Kaker, who had been the township's parks and recreation director since March 2015, was formally named assistant manager in June. He has been filling the role of acting township manager since Lapinski's departure in early December, Kroberger said.

"Alex has been outstanding. He's stepped up to fill the shoes and so has (finance director) Dave Brill, Deanna (Logan, administrative assistant), and a lot of people," he said.

"They've all formed a very nice, team approach to taking care of everything," Kroberger said.

Adding to that team on a temporary basis is a familiar face, Kroberger announced Monday night; Larry Comunale, former Lower Gwynedd Township Manager until his retirement in April 2016, has joined Upper Gwynedd on a part-time basis.

"He understands Upper Gwynedd, he knows Upper Gwynedd, he knows a lot of the people that we know, so it wasn't having someone come in that was totally oblivious to what Upper Gwynedd Township is," said Kroberger.

"He's got a lot of knowledge and understanding, just to help Alex go through everything. He's assisting Alex because Alex is the acting manager," he said.

Comunale will be working roughly 24 hours per week for "probably a two-month period of time" as a search for the next full-time manager is done, he said.

To do that search, council unanimously approved a contract with Lafayette College's Meyner Center and consultant David Woglom, the consultant used by Lansdale Borough for a similar search last year. Woglom acted as borough manager in Quakertown for 20 years and has worked for over 80 municipalities and other entities, mostly in Pennsylvania, over the past decade.

"He is not a headhunter. He's just assisting us in the search process — that has to do with the advertising process, with reviewing resumes, with conducting interviews with potential candidates," Kroberger said.

"Basically, going through the whole process to look for the best candidate to serve Upper Gwynedd, and all of its residents, in the future," he said.

The contract with Woglom was a late addition to the commissioners' Dec. 17 meeting agenda, and Kroberger said it includes a price not to exceed $6,000, "which I think is pretty good for the work he's going to be doing for us."

Kaker said afterward he is "excited to be working with someone as experienced and respected as Larry," and said he thought Comunale and his experience will be a valuable resource for the township.

"We also have great staff and a trusted team of consultants that will continue to do their jobs at a high level while the board conducts their search for a new township manager," Kaker said.

"I enjoyed working with Mike; he always made time for me when I had questions, and I really appreciated that. I wish him nothing but the best," he said.

Kroberger also announced that the board had met in executive session on Dec. 11 ahead of that night's board workshop to discuss personnel issues and would meet again after the Dec. 18 meeting to discuss personnel and legal issues.

Upper Gwynedd's commissioners next meet at 7 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2019, at the township administration building, 1 Parkside Place. For more information or meeting agendas and materials, visit UpperGwynedd.org.

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