Board to explore community development director options

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

With Bridgton facing another Community Development Director vacancy, Selectman Bear Zaidman thinks it is a good time to explore all options.

Rather than zip off a help wanted ad to fill the position — a vacancy created when the town declined to extend Audrey Knight’s contract after six months on the job — Zaidman suggested Tuesday night maybe the town’s planning needs can be addressed by subcontracting with the Greater Portland Council of Government, and also bringing in additional secretarial help to assist Town Manager Bob Peabody. Zaidman pointed to the success the town has had hiring Black Fly to promote Bridgton and developing the town’s “branding.” Could outside consultants be used as part of town planning is a question Zaidman would like investigated.

Peabody will assume several CDD responsibilities until selectmen figure which path to follow. The list is quite lengthy, which became apparent when Peabody read a portion of the job description, which selectmen revamped before hiring Knight.

Zaidman added that maybe the creative approach won’t work, but is worth looking into before investing time and money in a new development director.

Selectman Bob McHatton, however, was on the other side of the issue. He pointed to the need for a trained professional to handle complex matters, such as continued work with the town’s Land Use Committee, as well as managing community block grant funding, for which $30,000 goes toward administration of the fund — handled by the community development director.

Selectmen will await some information collected by the town manager before deciding how to proceed.

In other meeting notes:

Sign upgrade needed? For 14 years, Bill Preis has been the driving force to offer ping-pong play for all at the Town Hall.

With seven tables available each week, the hall was once booming with excitement and fun with 27 or so players giving it their best shots.

But, the hall is a little quieter these days, Preis told selectmen. Lately, only four to five players have shown up. Preis posed the question to selectmen that if the town had an electronic sign on North High Street on the town hall property advertising ping-pong (and other events, as well), maybe attendance would increase.

He added that it would be nice if the events calendar posted on the town’s website could be printed.

Chairman Greg Watkins noted that selectmen did discuss the possibility of replacing the “lettered” signboard with newer technology. Despite $12,000 being raised by voters to purchase an electronic sign, “mixed feelings” were expressed by officials regarding whether the sign should be placed in front of the town hall or at another location.

Preis and fellow resident Bob Mawhinney both felt the existing spot was the ideal location because traffic is slower on that stretch, giving folks time to see what is being posted.

With budget season coming, Watkins said selectmen will likely revisit the issue.

Report dedication. Selectman Bear Zaidman proposed that this year’s town report be dedicated to former selectmen, the late Earl Cash and Phil Douglass. The board supported the motion 5-0.

Thanks for your time. Selectmen also extended public thanks to Chuck Renneker for his 15 years of volunteer service as a member of the Community Development Committee. Renneker submitted his resignation feeling it was time to “pass the baton” to others with “fresh ideas.”

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