Jay Closser
Concord Town Appraiser

Age 47

Interviewed March 30, 2000

Concord Oral History Program
Renee Garrelick, Interviewer.

Click here for audio in .mp3 format

Jay Closser has been Concord's Town Appraiser from January 1983 through March 2000.

Jay ClosserIn 1983 statewide towns and cities were required by the courts to undergo revaluation along the basis of Proposition 2 1/2, but in essence what they were required to do was to revalue the town at 100% of market value every two years. That had not been the case prior to that. Prior to that it had been pretty much willy-nilly. Some towns would revalue properties and others wouldn't. There was also no direct correlation between 100% market value and assessments. By bringing the assessment process into line with market values, the thought was that assessments would then be more consistent, and therefore, more fair. This was all brought about by various and sundry lawsuits, one of them in Boston involving a commercial property. They found out that commercial properties were being valued higher than market value whereas residential properties were being valued lower than market value. So the intention of the revaluation process was to address that and have everything tied to market value.

What transpired was that towns had to come up with a plan to do this. The way you did it was to hire a company or a consultant to come in and revalue your property. Concord first attempted to do this in 1981 or thereabouts. The first effort was handled by an outside company. Some other towns did it that way as well, but in Concord there seemed to be a lot more outcry than in some other towns. It is my understanding that as many as 1100 people came to the Town House to complain about their values. Part of the revaluation process as specified by state law requires that there is a public information period, an informal period, in which the public can comment on the values. That's what was happening on this particular day when 1100 people showed up, so a lot of people had comments. They felt in particular that the values were totally inconsistent, and they felt the outside company just didn't have an understanding of the town. So the town decided they had to do something about it. They brought in the real estate community to advise the assessors. The Board of Assessors had five members, so they brought in 12 members from the real estate community to set up a committee to offer suggestions as to how to do this. One of the things they did was they broke the town down into 19 different neighborhoods and then a bunch of sub-neighborhoods after that.

Throughout this process of dealing with this first revaluation it became apparent that there was a need for something else. It was decided that the town needed a Town Appraiser on board that could oversee this process rather than having an outside company do it that wasn't familiar with the town, and who were basically interested in coming in, getting the job done and leaving. So it was felt the town would be better served to have somebody like me. So I was brought on board in 1983 and from that point on have done all the revaluations in-house.

It is my understanding that there were a few people in the Town Appraiser position before. But the difference, I think, is that when I came in, the assessment process had become a much more highly regulated process and had a lot more oversight than it had before, which meant that there were a lot of pitfalls that could occur with financing the town. If you didn't meet all these requirements, you couldn't get your tax bills out on time. I believe since 1983 we have not sent a single tax bill out late. So that's something I'm proud of.

Tony Logalbo, the Finance Director, hired me. It was rather an extensive interview process. I came out from the city of Boston answering an ad in Bankers & Tradesman. I'd always liked Concord and I didn't really think I was looking for a job at the time, but as I started interviewing I realized this sounded like something I would be interested in. Tony talked to me initially, then I talked to Steve Sheiffer, Town Manager at the time, and Tony, then I talked to Steve Sheiffer, Tony and the entire Board of Assessors. It was at least three interviews if not more. Steve Sheiffer was my first Town Manager and there have been two since then. I was the first Town Appraiser to come into the town and be responsible for the revaluations, and there has not been an outside company in to do them since then. I think that has benefited the town. At the very least the residents have somebody to talk to, somebody who's there on a daily basis. When you deal with government, the greatest frustration is the inability to get anything done, and oftentimes, just to get a particular person to talk with. In fact when I first started in Concord, I noticed right away that there was indeed a feeling among the public that nobody listened to them. For example, I had a number of people come in and say, "You know I told the assessors about the fact that I had torn down that shed or that I only have four bedrooms or that I don't have a pool or whatever, and it still shows up on my tax bill and on my card, what's the story here?" So I did something very fundamental that did not exist. I started a folder on every property so when somebody came in with a letter that said hey, I've got a problem here, that letter went into that folder and was always there. So I couldn't say, "No, I never got that letter or whatever." I think that is all part of the accountability process and was required, and I believe we've maintained that during this period.

I always felt the Board of Assessors was there to take the blame and I was there to take the glory. For example, if there was a negative decision involved well, we blame that on the Board. Whereas if there was a positive decision involving an abatement or something, then we would say that we convinced the Board that you deserved an abatement. That's sort of true but in reality the Board is there as the calming influence. Why I say that is when you are in a public position and you talk with members of the public and you're dealing with valuations and assessments, you tend to be swayed perhaps or influenced and that's all well and good. Then when you're convinced and you have to present it to the Board of Assessors, sometimes they are not convinced. So they're really there as an oversight and to establish policy. While a lot of discussion might go into it, there are certain policies that need to be followed. The Board is indeed ultimately responsible for the values, in fact their signatures are on the values, not my signature, I advise the board. Through the years, I suspect they came to rely on me more and more but nevertheless there is always that further step involved. Once I made a decision then I would have to run it by the Board of Assessors. So the Board is there to help keep things in line, to establish policy, and to some degree for protection from the regulations and the whole process. It allows an extra level. And indeed the Board represents the various sectors of the town, so I think it is very important because the assessing process is indeed a public process. It's not "us against them;" it's sort of just us doing what we have to do as a community to fund the town.

The Board looks to have good geographic and economic distribution as well as considerations, for example, there would be somebody who was from the business community or affordable housing or something like that. There have been various types of people through the years. There have been few lawyers and few real estate brokers which perhaps might be because they're too related but it might also be they're too busy. It's really a broad cross-section of society here in Concord in general.

Board members require training. To my knowledge it is the only board or committee in town that if you join it, you have to take a class, but that was all part of the revaluation regulations and laws that I talked about earlier. The State determined that the whole process was so inconsistent that they set up an education process that every assessors is required to take a course that is approved by the Department of Revenue. They can go to assessors school and do it for a week, which isn't everybody's idea of a great vacation in August or you can do it during the year one night a week for 12 or so weeks. By the end of it though every single person has said they learned a lot more. Not many said it was the most exciting course they ever took, but they are required to do that. I think it's good even though it does put a lot of demand on a volunteer personally to have to take this course.

Most people believe that Proposition 2 1/2 and the decision to do revaluations are one and the same. In fact they are somewhat different; they just happened roughly around the same time. The Tregor Bill, which I mentioned earlier, was the lawsuit that brought about the decision that assessment should be 100% of market value. Proposition 2 1/2 is a taxpayers initiative that was started by some of the various well known tax groups but it was passed in a general election and became the law. In essence what it says is that the total levy cannot go up by more than 2 1/2% a year plus new growth and any unused levy capacity. It does not however say, and most people think, that 2 1/2 applies to you as an individual. In fact it applies to the whole town and that's really part of the problem. That is why I think the revaluations are very important and definitely have improved the reassessment process. The problem is that you're tied to explaining market value of assessments, and in fact, that can cause rather broad swings across town. We did the valuations every three years. After 1984 you could do them on a three-year basis rather than a two-year. They realized that was too soon and changed that. So every three years we would revalue the town and I would find that there were some sector of the real estate market that went up more or less than another. One year all the outlying properties seemed to go up more than those in town. The next revalue, it was maybe all the condos that went up more or down more, or something like that. While over the long term these variations might tend to come together and be more consistent, on a short term on a three year basis it causes broad swings. So when you do a revaluation and somebody's value goes up by say 20% and somebody else's goes down by 20%, then that person that went up by 20% is going to see a lot more than a 2 1/2% increase, and it's perfectly legal because we're tied to the market. But nevertheless the whole town levy cannot go up by more than 2 1/2%, which if you think about it is a very difficult nut to crack so to speak because lots of things go up by more than 2 1/2% a year. Even in good years inflation has been 2.2%, so in a bad year if it's 4%, you're going to have a hard time keeping up with the inflation at 2 1/2%. But it nevertheless has forced people and towns to think about how they spend their money which I believe is the goal of it.

I think it would make more sense for it to be a variable rate rather than a fixed rate. In fact times change and it would be a wonderful thing if you could have 2 1/2% and stick with it but that's not the case. You would think there was no problem at all now because the market is so good and the economy is so good, but that's not the case. Concord is looking at the possibility of an override this summer for operating expenses and that's simply because we're getting up against 2 1/2. So even though times are better now and you'd think there would be more money around, the strictures of 2 1/2 limit the amount that the town can raise. So that is a problem. On the other side of the question, there does seem to be a tendency in government to constantly grow, I suppose, at least that's what they claim on the federal level. I don't know that that's true on the local level. Certainly Proposition 2 1/2 would constrain that.

Over the 17 years building has indeed been quite cyclical. When I first came here in 1983 to some extent, the country, and New England in particular, was still reeling from the oil price shocks of the ‘70s and what that had done. For example, gasoline was 28 cents a gallon my entire life then in 1973 it was 55 cents and in 1978 it was $1.00 and then it just started varying. What that meant was your big house suddenly cost a lot more to heat. Not only that but the country was actually thinking about saving on gas mileage in cars and thinking conservation and alternative forms of energy. While we may not be thinking about that so much now that was the case back then, and so as a result, a lot of the large houses which today we call mansions, you couldn't give them away then. That has changed dramatically. There are many more changes which I'll mention, but now those very houses are in extreme demand. From what I've seen they sell based on how big they are. $300-400 square foot of living area for top-end properties and if they are 10,000 square feet then they sell for $3 or 4 million, My point is now size is in, and you can do more with those big properties. Back in 1983 that wasn't the case. The highest sale that year was a house at Caterina Heights that sold for $396,000 which I thought was shockingly high.

There actually had been some higher sales earlier but of some huge properties. To give you an example, around 1979 or 1980 one property owner bought some land on Monument Street out near the Carlisle border, basically a little woodland and open land, for $275,000. And now, and over the last three or four years, those lots were developed and have been selling in what's known now as Monument Farm where a single lot of two acres will go for $500,000. There are 17 or 18 lots there that were made out of this and the whole thing was purchased for $275,000. There really have been some remarkable changes. At the time $275,000 seemed high. There is another property out there on Monument Street that involves nearly 180 acres that was purchased in 1984 for about $800,000 and now it's worth $7 or $8 million. So there have been some phenomenal things.

The market increased at a dramatic pace from ‘85 to ‘88, and then in 1989 it fell for the first time and real estate in Concord actually dipped down. Somebody who bought a property in ‘88 and sold it in ‘91 probably didn't do very well, definitely lost some money. In 1991 for the first time ever we did what we call an interim year value change because we felt the values had fallen far enough below assessments that theoretically every person in town could go to court and win an abatement. Our thought process was that once you get below 10%, if your house is assessed for $500,000 and it's only worth 450,000 and going down, from our perspective we were in trouble. Not that we expected the residents of Concord to all file and indeed most of them understand the process, but we lowered values that year by about 15%. The next year we did revaluation and at least some sectors may have gone down a little bit more. Condominiums were killed at that point. You couldn't get rid of them, so they went way down. Now of course that has changed. They went way, way up in the last three years. That's just sort of the way things are. It is cyclical, but it is very much tied to the availability of capital and the economy in general.

When employees are getting big bucks they have money to spend and when they have money to spend, they are willing to spend more to be in a certain location. That's supply and demand and Concord is a desirable location. When times are good, the price of land in particular goes way up. It can come back down again and I certainly won't be surprised when we do have a down turn. But it certainly has been pretty good since 1994. Values really started spiking or going up rapidly in about 1998 and they're right up there right now.

During the recession there wasn't anybody to rent the large office buildings. There was a building in Concord in fact that was purchased in ‘88 for $10 or $11 million and it sold in ‘94 for $4 million which is about $55 a square foot. There were a number of sales at that point in 1994 at about $50 a square foot and that was the result of just finally getting all this stuff out of the recession and rent started to pick up and tenants started to pick up at that point and then all of a sudden in 1997 they started selling for $100 a square foot. If you look through the records of the town, you find office building A in 1994 $55 a square foot and in 1997 office building B very similar at $100 a square foot. So they really just boomed up. It once again depends on expectations for the future. In 1994 everybody was glum and working their way out of the recession, whereas in 1997 everybody was looking forward and that's sort of the way it works. Reality always, of course, lags somewhat behind expectations whether it's on the positive side or negative side. It never gets quite as bad I don't think as everybody thinks and nor is it quite as good. People have a great capacity to think that their property is worth more than it is except of course when they're talking to the assessors.

As I talked earlier about the Tregor Bill and Prop 2 1/2 and revaluation, commercial properties were by and large overvalued for whatever reasons, political reasons, or perhaps lack of understanding that they don't sell as often as residential properties do, and they certainly are not like the stock market where you can just look and see what IBM is selling for in any given day. It really varies. One of the results of the revaluation process or valuing properties at 100% of market value was that in the first valuation year in just about every town but certainly in Concord, the value of residential properties went up and the value of commercial properties went down. As I was saying between 1994 and 1997, it went from $55 to $100. There is a lot of variation in the market in commercial, but nevertheless if you're valuing as of a certain point in time which in assessing is always January 1 and a revaluation year is every three years on January 1, then you are looking at the market as of that date. Certainly you have to keep in mind trends as opposed to just data points. You know that's very important because if you just stick with data points, you can get some really wild spikes. But if you look for trends, then that's better. Actually the disparity was before the revaluation. When properties, residential and commercial, got to the same 100% level and the result was that commercial assessments had come down and residential assessments had gone up, there was of course an outcry from the residents or at least there was a concern that there was going to be an outcry. The large city mayors, Kevin White in Boston among them, got together and convinced the Department of Revenue through the legislature to allow the classification process. Many people have researched the classification process to figure out why it was brought about. It was my understanding that it was brought about to deal with that change at that time. In other words, if commercial properties go down then their taxes are going to go down. What classification allowed was for towns to shift taxes from residential to commercial. The way a tax rate is derived is you come up with the total town levy and you divide that by the total town value. That is a simple mathematical calculation and the result is the tax rate. That's called the uniform tax rate.

Under classification the town was permitted with the selectmen's vote to shift up to as much as 50% onto commercial class which would allow them to be in residential class to pay less than 100% as if their assessments were lower. If you think of assessments and tax levies as being the same and they are both at 100%, the breakdown of 80% residential and 20% commercial, then commercial should pay 20% of the tax and residential 80% of the tax. Under classification you were allowed to shift so that residential might only pay 60% and commercial would pay 40%. That resulted in a tax rate that was not uniform and was lower for residences and higher for commercial properties. The Town of Concord began that shift as many other communities did in 1984. At that point the reasoning behind it was that we should not lower the amount of a levy that commercial property was paying because in essence they were the same properties as was there before, but it's just because there are variations in this valuation process. So the town entered down that pathway based on that reasoning. It sounded all well and good because it was fairly innocuous. I think the first shift was less than 1%. It was extremely small and it allowed the levy shares to stay basically the same even though commercial had dropped a little bit.

That was fine except as time went by residential properties started going up in value a lot faster than commercial properties. It wasn't because the commercial sector was flagging and losing their value, it was simply because the residential sector was really rocketing. This was 1984 through 1989. Residential values were going up at 3% a month and commercial properties weren't. In 1984 that was roughly the split in the town, 80% of the value was residential and 20% was commercial. As the ‘80s progressed that number changed to the point where by the end of the ‘80s, it was almost 88% residential and 12% commercial. So what that meant was that in order to maintain the same amount of the levy being borne or paid for by the commercial and residential, it was necessary to keep raising the commercial tax rate or the shift to it. In my mind I never really came up with any great justification as to why it made sense to in the words of the anonymous assessors "stick it to the business class." Although there are those who would argue until they are blue in the face about it that from Kevin White's point of view in Boston, he probably figured that commercial property owners don't vote so let's keep the residents happy. That's one justification.

From our perspective it was a policy option that was available. We did feel it was very important to keep consistency and to keep the expectations of the public the same. If you go into Town Meeting for example and the budget is going up by 5% and everybody votes yes and says that's great, and then they have a revaluation and they find out their taxes went up by 15%, that's not good from the credibility perspective of the town. That situation could happen in a revaluation year because the commercial sector might have gone down in value so much. Then the question is, Well, what do we do about this? For a number of years, we kept shifting more onto the commercial class until about 1989 or so, it reached it's peak of a shift of about 22%. So it went from 9% in 1984 to 22% in 1989, and in that particular year the reason it had to go up to 22% was to maintain the expectation that had been generated in town meeting to residents. We realized it was really becoming counterproductive particularly because the split in the town had changed from 80/20 to 88/12. At 80/20, if you want to lower the residential rate by $1.00, you have to raise the commercial rate by $4.00 or $5.00 or however the ratio works there. When you get 88/12 or roughly 90/10, it becomes a much greater number. It got to the point where no matter how much you raised the commercial property, it wasn't going to have that much effect on the residential properties. At that point I abandoned it and said this doesn't make sense any more, we just have a dwindling supply.

It just so happened that at that period which was late ‘80s-early ‘90s, commercial properties were really taking a beating in the recession and there had been a number of groups organized in the town, or at least one group, that was looking at ways of attracting commercial properties to Concord. I remember talking with Tony Logalbo and he said, "Why is it people are willing to drive to the rotary in Concord and sit through all that traffic to get to 128 when they could just pull into GenRad and go to work there, or something like that." I said, "That's sounds like a great idea." At that time GenRad was having trouble, they were cutting back on their workforce. They'd shrunken out of their space so they didn't need it anymore. One of the letters we got when we increased the tax rate by 22% for commercial properties was from the Chairman of GenRad, and he said, "This just makes it very difficult for us to plan." One of the factors that was looked at was what does a split tax rate or a higher commercial rate, what influence does that have on a company's decision whether or not to locate here. It was felt, and indeed a number of property developers from the town weighed in saying that it definitely makes a difference. They said if they can go to some other town nearby that's just as convenient and the tax is going to be a buck less a square foot, then that makes a big difference when we're talking about rents that at the time were only $8.00 a foot. If you're paying a buck and a half of that in taxes then that makes a difference. Some other towns like Chelmsford had had some success in attracting businesses there. Whether it was because of the tax rate, we don't know.

The selectmen decided to head the other direction at that point in the early ‘90s. And there really wasn't much resistance from the Board of Assessors. They were never unanimous except toward the very end, but I think they were always in the majority that they felt it made sense. From my perspective I thought the uniform rate was great simply because it was just one less thing that I had to deal with. You can talk to somebody about their value but you can't really talk about their taxes because I don't control the tax rate, I control the value. Obviously they are related but if everybody has the same tax rate that's just takes one argument off the table.

And furthermore, it is unfair to treat people differently. Granted there are all kinds of differentiations in the tax code. Certainly people who are in the 15% income tax bracket pay less of their total than those who are in the 33% or whatever it goes to. People accept that because that's the law. When you get into the taxation process, you really have to buy into the argument that we're all in this together, this is a community and this how we fund our community. To stick it to somebody else for whatever reason is going to cause some kind of problem, so the uniform rate in my mind is certainly easier to support, and I'm glad that we're there, which was started in 1996.

After that we even did away with the open space discount. It sounds good and our arguments to the selectmen for years had always been that we believe that the open space discount which was 15% from the uniform rate was something that the town was interested in because while we weren't really convinced it saved any open space, at least it showed that we thought about it and we cared about it as a town. But we finally decided if we're going to have a uniform rate, we might as well have a uniform rate and so we did away with that as well. When you say open space, everybody thinks of conservation land and vacant land, but the classification itself from the assessment point of view is impossible to administer. It's impossible to explain to somebody why they would get it and their neighbor might not. Because it was so vague, the law says something like "open space is a classification for property that doesn't fit any other classification." There's no guidance whatsoever, so we decided we'd just have one uniform rate and I think we're much better off.

If I could have come up with an argument that made sense to me, I would have used it. Not because I think it's a great thing but there really wasn't an argument. We abandoned it but really it was easy for me to convince everybody that it should be abandoned once I showed them that the ratio between the properties had gone from 80/20 to about 90/10. Then the map just no longer makes sense. In fact there was an attorney from town who I had had many contentious dealings with in the past who told me that he had come to that meeting to argue against going to an uniform rate, but that once he heard me talk and present the numbers, he realized it really didn't make any sense any more so he incredibly enough bit his tongue and didn't say anything.

The hardest part of this job in fact has been the thought process that goes into why did I do what I did because the residents of Concord will come in and ask you that. You obviously can't say well I just made it up. You have to think about these things and have a reason for them. That's what I think distinguishes assessors or town appraisers. There aren't many people called a town appraiser. I always like that term in fact because I thought it showed that I was an appraiser and wasn't one of the assessors, but basically everybody calls me tax assessor so I quit fighting it. But that's just one of those things that you have to think about and that's all part of the accountability process that we were talking about earlier. You can't just say it doesn't matter because it does matter. One thing that I learned in Concord at a very early stage, and I think it's true anymore in public business but it seems to be especially in Concord, is there is no such thing as a non-issue. As soon as you have the notion that it is a non-issue, you're in big trouble. That's why we have really tried to back up what we did with some reasoning behind it.

Of the changes I've seen over the 17 years, I guess the obvious changes aren't so obvious to some people, but the houses that are being built are just getting bigger and bigger every year. There's never been a year when suddenly everybody is building smaller houses, even in the recession. One of the reasons for that is that's what the public wants. But secondly, the land value has become so high that you have to build a bigger house to justify the land costs or something like that. There is some extent to which town regulations and subdivision bylaws and whatnot can cause land and developments to be more expensive and perhaps make it so that developers have to build these bigger houses. I didn't see anybody clamoring saying if we didn't have to put in granite curbs, and if we didn't have to put in all these trees, and drains, and if we didn't have to put the road in to this specification, we would build you a bunch of little houses. You know, nobody said that. But there was at one point back in the mid ‘80s, one big development went into town and I think there was a deed restriction in the lot sales that said that you couldn't build a house that was less than 3500 square feet. At the time I thought 3500 square feet was big. Now 3500 square feet is not that big. Some of these houses today are 10,000 square feet and up. There's at least one house in town that has over 15,000 square feet of space. These houses don't just happen overnight. Normally a typical builder of the typical American home might have a hope for a turnaround time of three months. If they can do that, then they might make money. In Concord, it takes three years for some of these houses to be built. It's not a development type town. It never was even though there are a few big developments that have occurred in the ‘60s and ‘70s like Thoreau Hills, but that's a long time ago. Now the biggest development is Mattison Drive and Monument Farm, and here and there you have these developments, but for the most part it's just single houses being built on large tracts. So there's definitely a change.

I remember at one point the past Natural Resources Director, Dan Monahan said to me that back in the mid ‘80s when they were building big houses and then the big development was Caterina Heights, "You know I can't believe they're building all these houses." They built these huge houses or so we thought at the time. I had said earlier you couldn't get rid of these things in the early ‘80s and the thought was this is kind of a flash in the pan kind of thing and that he thought one possible scenario would be when the market goes down that nobody will be able to afford these things and the oil prices will go up and they'll turn into condominiums so we'll end up doubling the size of the town and having more kids in school and whatnot. Well, that didn't exactly happen but that's a thought. Now we realize of course that Caterina Heights was small potatoes compared to some of the these houses even though there are some beautiful houses. There are beautiful houses all around Concord. Another thing I think has happened and you know maybe this isn't true, but it seemed there used to be this real distinction between south side of Route 2 and north side of Route 2. It made a difference and most of the expensive properties were north of Route 2. That has changed and I think the one way that Concord real estate seems to be somewhat unique is that when you buy a house, you know the old saying was that you want to buy the lousiest house on the best street, and you put a paint job on it and it'll go up. That's not the case any more in Concord. I saw a house back in the late ‘80s that was a million dollar house built on this main road right near town where every other house on the street was a $200,000 house, so that's the opposite of the lousiest house on the best street. This is the best house on a lesser street and it sold with no problem. Also I find in areas of town where the housing stock has gotten older and is smaller and out of style, that if someone comes in and does a major renovation... I saw situations where someone would buy a house in a neighborhood where everything else was worth say $150,000, you could find places like that 10 years ago, you can't really find that anymore, but they would just do a major renovation and then sell it for $375,000 and it would sell. Once again against the logic of why would anybody pay $375,000 for a fixed up version of everything else that's around that's worth $150,000. But in Concord that's works because it seems to me that particularly throughout the ‘90s the housing stock has just continually updated and renovated and improved and that's basically what has to be done for houses to last. It's obvious that houses don't last forever. Basically the good ones and the ones that are maintained are the ones that survive. There comes a time in every period when the housing stock no longer contributes to the land value and that's sort of happening right now. That had never occurred in Concord ever before, but over the last three or four years we've seen a lot of demolition where the land is worth much more and the people will tear it down and put up a bigger house. There really are some dramatic cases in fact.

Actually one thing that's changed on a very basic level is, you know I've been driving into Concord for a long time, when I first started in 1983, you could drive through the center of town. There was the rush hour factor but then during the day no problem. Well now, there is just always rush hour. And the number of cars that people own. It's a regional thing the traffic problem in Concord, but in general people have a lot more cars than they used to. If the average household is 2.3 people, those 2.3 people seem to have 3.4 cars and that wasn't the case before.

I've seen people change an awful lot just because I've spent nearly a generation here. When I first started working here I had a girl at the time working in my office who was in 8th grade, and I had her entering data on this little handheld Radio Shack computer that I had programmed a formula into. It was how I was analyzing commercial properties. I said here's what I want you to do and I gave her this list. I found that it would take me an hour to do one because I had so many thoughts in my head and I would have to check this and check that and I realized I was never going to get it done. So I had her do it. She was a smart girl and she just manually did this calculation and printed it out on this little printer. But she then moved on and graduated from high school and went to college and went to law school and moved to San Francisco and is a partner in a major law firm out there. She hasn't come back yet and filed an abatement application... It really is sort of a passing of a generation of peoples, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to spend that amount of time in the Town of Concord.

Jay Closser

Text mounted 9 February 2008; audio mounted 23 June 2012 RCWH