Bridgton Selectmen, CDC look to reconnect
By Wayne E. Rivet
As a local developer, Justin McIver likely captured the feeling of his fellow committee members when he said, “We are passionate about what we are doing.”
McIver and other members of the Community Development Advisory Committee see great potential here.
The ball of change is starting to roll, but it has yet to gain the kind of momentum that some might like to see.
Issues tied to development have been discussed at great lengths, but as some CDC members told selectmen at a workshop meeting Monday, talk hasn’t always led to action.
At the moment, selectmen and CDC members feel a disconnect exists between the two entities.
“This needs to be a collaborative effort,” McIver said. “I would like to see us have more togetherness in our approach.”
The workshop’s aim was to review the CDC’s charge (see sidebar story below), as well as address what the group should focus on as tasks for 2017.
CDC chairman Chuck Renneker admitted that there have been some operational shortfalls including the group lacking a quorum at times, thus stalling work efforts, as well as failing to file updates to selectmen on a regular basis — something Renneker accepted blame for, citing a lack of time due to other responsibilities that kept him for at least drafting written reports.
Renneker did suggest that a CDC report could be made to selectmen each month, but encouraged the board to place time early in their meeting agenda for this report, rather than wait till later in the night.
The group presently consists of 13 members, along with selectman Bob McHatton, who serves as a liaison. To have a quorum, seven members need to be in attendance.
Planning Board member Deb Brusini suggested that the group downsize, thus lowering the needed number for a quorum. She suggested that present members, who are unable to consistently attend the early morning meetings (8 a.m.) could be designated as alternates.
Renneker said the committee was grown to include people possessing an “array of talents.”
CDC member Phyllis Roth asked selectmen, “What do you want from the CDC?”
Board Chairman Greg Watkins said selectmen sense some uncertainty as to whether the CDC is “self-guided” at this time — deciding on its own what topics to discuss and pursue — or if the committee is still guided by selectmen as to matters to address.
“What is the committee’s charge?” Watkins asked.
CDC member Carmen Lone pointed out that there are presently “clearly indicated guidelines given by the selectmen as to what the committee addresses.”
“It’s my understanding that the committee is advisory in nature and can address a wide range of topics as approved by selectmen,” Lone said.
When asked if selectmen have given the CDC direction, Watkins responded with a question, “What has been the mix?”
Renneker was quick to fire back, “1 percent of the time there’s been direction, 99 percent there has been none.”
One project selectmen did give the CDC to work on was to develop a list of town-owned properties. The idea is to sell those properties, and use the funds to pay for infrastructure improvements.
Roth asked selectmen “what is the most pressing issue we can help you with?”
Noting that the board is busy dealing with budgets and other town matters, Selectman Bear Zaidman feels the CDC could be a big help in implementing items outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.
A starting point would be to prioritize which elements should be implemented first. Renneker suggested that CDC members and selectmen jot down their “Top 5” items to address. He also added that once work commences, the CDC would need to work on these topics with town staff and the new Community Development Director, once that position is filled.
Town Manager Bob Peabody, who actually received an e-mail during the workshop from a potential candidate, said the town has received 11 applications, with the filing deadline being this Friday. Then, Peabody and the Interview Panel will look over the applications, possibly narrow the field to three and schedule interviews. Peabody estimated it will likely take two months (taking into account the selection process and if the selected candidate gives a two-week or month’s notice) before the next director is on board and working.
McIver reiterated the importance of both groups staying in the same loop “so we are all on the right track.”
The two groups agreed communication needs to improve and a stronger push should be made to bring projects to fruition.
- Decide what needs to be done.
- Set a date to complete by.
- As work begins, determine if that finish date can be reached.
- File reports regarding what progress has been made.
Both groups believe strong components — talented and committed people interested in seeing Bridgton grow — are in place, now all that is needed for everyone to be on the same page, understanding what is being asked of them, and communicate.
Monday’s workshop proved to be a good starting point.
Charles Renneker, Chairman
Dave Crowell, Co-Chairman
Evan Miller, Nelle Ely, Ursula Flaherty
Phyllis Roth, Justin McIver, Stephen Rickert
Mitchell Thomas, Peter Dubrule
Carmen Lone, Catherine Samuels, Martha Cummings
Selectman, Robert J. McHatton Sr., Liaison
The Community Development Committee was formed when the Economic Development Corporation was privately created and the Town’s Economic Development Committee functions shifted to a different focus, that of development within the community.
The Community Development Committee (CDC) acts an advisory committee and resource to the Board of Selectmen. Upon approval of the selectmen, the committee may coordinate with other entities within the town government and the Economic Development Corporation as an element of their work. The key elements of their mission include planning for the community’s “quality of life” consistent with the goals established in the Bridgton Comprehensive Plan.
Issues for the Committee include growth strategies and methods of managing growth, community services, sustainable neighborhood development, affordable housing and other elements as approved by the selectmen.
The committee may also be asked by the selectmen to make recommendations for the board to consider, provide review, oversight and possible recommendations related to community development and planning policies, practices and implementation strategies.
The committee shall report to the selectmen, at least quarterly, the work and progress they have achieved on various assignments and issues. As an advisory committee, the CDC makes recommendations to the board for consideration. The committee may request volunteers to assist their efforts, however such persons are not considered voting members of the committee. The committee may request additional authorization from the selectmen for specific activities.
Members are appointed by the selectmen on an annual basis, usually in January of each year. The board may also appoint members during the year, as they deem necessary.
The committee shall hold regular public meetings, be responsible for the creation and posting of all agendas and the creation of the public record of each meeting in accordance with the prevailing state law. Such records shall be forwarded to the selectmen and any other entities they are working with.
- The selectmen may amend this charge and mission as they deem appropriate. (Last amendment: 2012)
Source: Town of Bridgton website