Interim director for Norwich recreation department not in city manager's plans

Norwich - The city recreation department will operate with existing staff minus a director while Director C. Roger Moss remains on paid administrative leave for undisclosed reasons, City Manager Alan Bergren said Tuesday.

Bergren placed Moss on paid administrative leave Monday morning. Bergren continued to decline to comment on specifics of the issues that led to the decision and said he did not have a time frame on how long the investigation would take.

But Bergren said he does not anticipate the need to appoint an interim director during the investigation.

"The staff there is very well trained, and my office and (Human Resources) provides oversight," Bergren said.

Alderman Mark Bettencourt, a member of the Recreation Advisory Board, said he thinks the city needs to act as quickly as possible. But because the board is an advisory one, he does not see it having a direct role in the situation.

"The city really needs to complete an investigation and make a decision if discipline is warranted and offer Mr. Moss a chance to defend himself," Bettencourt said. "I expect an expeditious resolution, maybe within a month."

According to the recreation budget approved in June, Moss is earning $78,302, and the department has six full-time staff. The total budget is $687,534. The budget projected 4,500 youth registrations for programs and 600 adult registrations.

Moss' position briefly became part of a budget-cutting battle in May, when residents, youth coaches, members of the Recreation Advisory Board and other city officials protested a plan to merge the recreation and senior center director positions, which would have displaced Moss as the more recent hire. The council dropped the idea as a result of the protests.

Moss came to Norwich in January 2012 after having served 15 years as East Hartford's parks and recreation director. He also served as lead promoter of the Podunk Bluegrass Festival, which he brought to the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium in August 2012.

The event was canceled this past summer because of scheduling conflicts with the Connecticut Tigers minor league baseball team.

c.bessette@theday.com

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