A search committee has been formed to recommend a replacement to fill the vacancy caused by the departure of town Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy.

McCarthy announced in April that he was retiring from the Westport post that he held for more than 25 years, and was hired for a similar job in Trumbull.

"I look forward to working with this dedicated group of people," Charlie Haberstroh, the search group's chairman and chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said in a statement. "We believe that there will be many strong candidates for this position. The parks and recreation director plays an important and highly visible role in our community. We will fill the position with the most qualified candidate."

First Selectman Jim Marpe said in the statement: "In addition to being grateful to those who will embark in this search, I am particularly pleased that Gerry Lombardo, parks and recreation director for the town of Fairfield, has agreed to share his expertise and serve in this capacity. Fairfield has a well-deserved reputation of parks and recreation management and organization, due in great part to Gerry's ability and dedication."

Marpe said he has appointed Ralph Chetcuti, the town's human resources director, to assume the interim Parks and Recreation Department management responsibilities until a new director is hired.

"With the onset of the summer months -- the busiest of the Parks and Recreation Department's season -- it is vitally important that the current leadership team remain focused on their responsibilities within the department," Marpe said. "Westporters can be assured that the high level of service that they have come to expect from the Parks and Recreation Department will not be diminished during this transition."