STONINGTON — After more than three and a half years as the town's director of planning, Jason Vincent is ready for new challenges.
The 45-year-old Griswold resident, who has served the community in his current role since January 2016, tendered his resignation on Monday, telling town officials in a letter that he has enjoyed the challenges and work he's done in Stonington, but that it was time to move on "to try something different." His last day will be Oct. 12.
Vincent said he decided to move on after he learned that First Selectman Rob Simmons was planning to retire, and it seemed like a natural time for him to transition and consider new opportunities.
"I felt I could learn from (Simmons), that there was an opportunity for me to grow and to help the community here," he said. "When I heard he was retiring, it got me thinking about what other ventures I could take part in."
He said Wednesday that he's got "a few coals in the fire" and is considering a number of options, but was not ready yet to reveal his next steps. Vincent is a co-owner of Epicure Brewing in Norwich and has also previously worked as a planning consultant.
Simmons praised Vincent's work for the town, noting that he has been instrumental in working with town officials and business owners to spark new life in downtown Pawcatuck. The establishment of a PV-5 district (Pawcatuck Village), work to remove the Campbell Grain building, and his efforts to help business owners like Jim Lathrop have all proved instrumental in helping revitalize downtown, the first selectman said.
Simmons praised his work with others, including Hartford HealthCare, noting that his efforts aided in the development of both Perkins Farm in Mystic and at the former site of Maple Breeze Park in Pawcatuck — sites where the medical company is establishing itself in the region.
"He has helped add millions to our grand list. I can't praise the work he's done for this community enough," Simmons said.
In fact, these successes are exactly what Simmons said he had in mind when he reached out to Vincent years ago when he took over as first selectman from Ed Haberek. At the time, Simmons was working in Norwich.
Vincent, who was familiar with Stonington from his work as a town planner from 2002 to 2003 and then as director of planning from 2003 to 2007, was the right fit at the right time, Simmons said.
"He's been a very valuable member of our staff and we can't thank him enough for what he's done," Simmons said.
Vincent will be replaced in the interim by Town Planner Keith Byrnes, who Simmons said has served the town well in the same role previously. The position will not be filled until after the November election.
Simmons noted that with his retirement and a change in leadership imminent, he has spoken with members of the Board of Selectmen and determined that the timing of their departures, paired with Byrnes' experience, will allow the town to continue to progress forward over the next several weeks while giving the selectmen elected in November a clean slate to work with.
"It's only fair that, whoever my successor should be, they have the opportunity to advertise and determine exactly what it is they want" in their director of planning, Simmons said.