Departing Fern: Misses engineering, might affect plan

news-water-garyfern-copy Gary Fern, the director of the Albemarle County Service Authority, the body that provides tap water to Albemarle citizens, says he's leaving to take a position with an engineering firm. "I got to a point in my career where I said I want to get back into engineering," says Fern. "I miss it."

When he leaves the last day of February, Fern will have served nearly four years with the Authority, presiding over construction of a replacement for the Camelot sewage facility, the North Fork Regional Pump Station, as well as a novel four-tiered pricing system which rewards misers and punishes hogs. Fern won't even have to move to take his new job with Whitman Requardt & Associates in Richmond, as he already lives partway there, in Louisa.

While the Authority that Fern has directed is not the one that's created controversy by authorizing a Nature Conservancy-sparked plan to build a single urban water source, he has served on the board of the embattled Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority. So his departure–- along with a new look by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors–- might affect that controversial plan.

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11 comments

The point of the article I cited was to agree with WatchDog that the board is out of control, and probably was a major contributor to Fern's leaving.

WSue, I didn't see Mr. Fern's name mentioned in the article you cite.

Sorry, "WSue" = "@Sue."

Let's hire Mr. Crutchfield to run this place, bet he'd whip that board into shape.

The connections between RWSA and RSWA and all their consultants, and former employees of these institutions, are fascinating, and have garnered the consultants of these two organizations tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, in recent years. Thank you Cville Eye; you always dig up the most pertinent information. A family tree of all the connections would be fascinating. I do know that VHB the original consultants for the 2003 bladder at South Fork Reservoir are still on the payroll, and Schnabel, the new dam designers have been on it for years, as well. Until we get new leadership at both these organizations I wouldn't trust a lick of work they produce under the current director, Mr. Frederick. I agree with comments above, too bad to lose Fern, he was a good egg.

http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2009/12/fern... has information on how his new employer is closely tied to his old one. I wonder just how instrumental Fern was in WR&A's getting such lucrative contracts with ACSA. Appearances, appearances when conducting even a quasi-governmental agency's business.

Mr. Fern has been under increasing pressure from his board, determined to stop any information about dredging the reservoir, as part of the water supply, or any new information about the significant drop in water usage, to be evaluated as part of the water planning process. The board's determination to not look at any new information, 2 board members, founders of Friends of the Moorman's, among the most adamant supporters of the Nature Conservancy Plan, put Mr. Fern in the untenable position-- of having to represent their self-serving and narrow-minded approach to planning for the future water needs, and cost of the plan. Having to represent this viewpoint on the Water Board caused one member of the public to ask Mr. Fern, how he could refuse funding the cost of a dredging study, if the information was for the " public good. "

I have observed Mr. Fern; he appears to be an honest, straight forward, smart administrator, and I believe the nonsensical behavior of his board was a large factor in his departure. Unfortunately, he was one of the best of the bunch, and any others that can, will not be far behind. The new Supervisors would do well to find new appointees, with more of a Crutchfield businessman's approach to the water plan, and the other business of this board.

The emotional decision making, outside the realm of common sense, that has taken hold of the Albemarle County Service Authority Board, would make any rational administrator seek other employment.

@Sue, it's now clear as a bell.

I hope a re-configured ACSA board will be the ones hiring his replacement.

One has to wonder if Mr. Frederick is looking for a new job. He hasn't exactly been receiving stellar job evaluation from the community, of late. Isn't he also an engineer ?

And this from the Chair of the Service Authority Board. No wonder he's leaving !

"Obama quip: Dredging stalls as racial debate rises"

http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2009/05/07/obama-quip-dredging...