Fitchburg Redevelopment Director Daniel Curley is Mourned
FITCHBURG -- Daniel Curley, the executive director of the city’s redevelopment authority, died suddenly late last month. He was 59.
“He was a very amazing man, well-respected in the field, he’s going to he hard to replace,” said former Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority executive director Tom Szocik.
Curley, a father of two, died suddenly of a heart attack on July 30, said Szocik. He was an accomplished athlete who played basketball and football, said Szocik, including four years on the football team at Tufts University.
Curley’s extensive experience in the field of economic development impressed Szocik when he hired the Leominster native in 2011.
Previous to joining the authority, Curley worked on economic development initiatives at the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s, said chamber executive director Roy Nascimento.
Nascimento, who started at the chamber three years ago, would later work with Curley as the two organizations developed a financing arrangement that allowed start-up River Styx Brewery to open inside the former General Electric building, which the development authority bought after its closure.
After his time at the chamber Curley headed up economic development for the city of Fitchburg, said Thomas Donnelly, the chair of the development authority’s Board of Directors.
Curley joined the redevelopment authority in 2011 when his city position was eliminated by former Mayor Lisa Wong, according to Donnelly.
“The redevelopment authority decided we could use his expertise,” he said.
Curley became executive director of the authority in 2012, said Donnelly. He was overseeing the implementation of the authority’s 20-year Urban Renewal Plan when he passed away, Szocik said.
The plan was ratified by the state in 2000 and laid out steps for reducing blight and revitalizing downtown, said Director of Economic Development Mary Jo Bohart.
A primary objective within that plan was to clean up the corner of North and Main streets, a main “gateway” to Fitchburg State University that decades ago was stricken by boarded up buildings and blight.
Among his accomplishments with the authority was helping kick-start development near that juncture by working to bring a CVS Pharmacy there, said Bohart.
The pharmacy opened in 2015 and provided a link between the city and the college, she said.
Mayor Stephen DiNatale said Curley was “an outstanding partner with the city” who was instrumental in negotiating the sale of the former General Electric building to the authority.
The former GE building is now known as Putnam Place, and the authority rents space there for city offices, the brewery, the Worcester Northern District Registry of Deeds and manufacturing company Leonardo DRS.
DiNatale said Curley possessed deep experience negotiating and navigating the real estate market that helped move several projects in the city forward.
“He had a good sense of how to get to consensus, how to get to yes,” he said. “He was always there to provide a knowledge base.”
The Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority has posted the job opening and is soliciting further applications before the Board of Directors selects its new director, said Donnelly.
Szocik worked as the authority’s part-time facilities consultant after retiring from his role as executive director. Szocik will temporarily lead the department until a new hire is made, said Donnelly.
“Whoever comes in to take over has big shoes to fill,” he said.