Four people vying for two planning board seats
By Lisa Williams Ackley
Four people are vying for two, three-year terms on the Bridgton Planning Board and are asking voters for their support.
Ken Murphy is stepping down from the planning board, as he is a candidate for selectman.
Incumbent Bridgton Planning Board member Deanna “Dee” Miller is seeking re-election, and other candidates are Richard “Dick” Danis, Mike Figoli and Adam Grant.
The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12 at the Town Hall on North High Street.
Candidate: Richard “Dick” Danis
Richard “Dick” Danis believes the economy will improve and said he wants to help guide the development and growth of Bridgton.
“Governor LePage announced that Maine is opened up for business,” said Danis. “I agree, and so is Bridgton. The message is out there — are we ready? Developers have cleared land, investors have expressed intent. This economy will open up, and when it does I want to be there to work with planning board members to find the best fit for our town.”
Danis said he believes businesses should be the mainstay of Bridgton’s downtown area.
“I want the downtown to stay focused on small business,” said Danis. “We don’t need Avesta (Housing) downtown. We want Avesta, but not on Main Street. This is similar to the controversy over McDonald’s and the ‘not in my backyard’ challenge that helped create the Comprehensive Planning Committee (CPC). The question we need to answer isn’t whether or not Avesta should come to Bridgton. The question is, ‘If Avesta were to come to Bridgton, where would it best fit, in order to maintain our small town image?’ These are just some of the issues that will come before our town’s government, issues that will have a great impact on our town’s future.”
Again, Danis said he wants to be involved in the decision-making process that helps Bridgton develop and grow.
“Having been one of nine residents appointed to the Comprehensive Plan Committee by the board of selectmen back in April of 2011, and having participated in public discussions on the Comprehensive Plan, I have learned several things. One of them is ‘not everyone is on the same page.’ Where there are issues, people tend to take sides. What we need to be asking is, ‘What is the best fit for a town that needs to grow?’ What is best for Bridgton? The comprehensive plan will define our vision. How that vision fits in will be a big job for many, including the planning board, and I want to be part of that.”
“For the past 14 months, I have lived up to my commitment to the Comprehensive Plan Committee, through attendance and participation, and it is that level of commitment that I intend to bring to the planning board,” said Danis. “I have learned to listen, not to create my own expectation of the way things should be, but to listen to what the people of Bridgton have to say. Together, let’s build a better Bridgton by design. Vote on 12 June.”
Candidate: Mike Figoli
Having lived and worked in Bridgton for 25 years now, Mike Figoli says he believes he has the knowledge, background and professional experience to be a member of the Bridgton Planning Board.
“I first came to Bridgton in 1987 to work at Howell Labs and saw what this area had to offer,” Figoli said. “I knew I wanted to live, work, and raise my family here. I built my family’s first home in Bridgton, and became a resident, in 1996. I was active on the original economic development committee. In 1998, I created a successful residential home building business based in Bridgton. I have built commercial structures and worked on commercial construction jobs in over 20 states for private companies as well as government jobs. This allowed me to interface with local codes, national codes, and environmental issues. I have interfaced with code enforcement, DEP, EPA and other state and federal regulator entities many times with a history of compliance and understanding.”
Having brought projects before the Bridgton Planning Board in the past, Figoli said he knows the process and has the expertise to review proposed projects.
“I have presented to the Bridgton Planning Board on several occasions for my projects and subdivisions in town, and have presented to other towns’ planning boards for clients,” said Figoli. “I have a very strong knowledge of building codes, regulations, and ordinances with a common sense approach to compliance while allowing growth.”
Figoli expressed his views, as to what he believes it will take to bring viable progress and prosperity to Bridgton.
“I know that it is crucial for Bridgton to not only survive but to prosper we must foster strong growth in areas that suit our town. We need to attract business in a responsible fashion while maintaining our charm,” said Figoli. “We need to provide jobs for our local students to enhance a work ethic in the community, and we also must give our young people an opportunity to come back and raise their families here. This takes available opportunities and jobs. This comes only with controlled growth.”
A sense of community identity is necessary, so the town can better direct its growth and development, Figoli believes.
“We, as a community, also need to recognize who and what we are. We need to bolster our access via Route 302 to allow some manufacturers an opportunity to locate here. We also need to realize we are a destination,” Figoli stated. “This needs to include entertainment for all generations, while maintaining our natural beauty. This can be achieved; we have more resources at our disposal than many towns that are prosperous while maintaining its particular character.”
Furthermore, said Figoli, “As a community we also need to lean on who is already here while supporting them and encouraging growth. This includes retail, manufacturing, entertainment and lodging and dining. I fully realize change can be scary but it is our only constant. We have to look to the past and allow Bridgton to expand for the future. Do not think North Windham with box stores and no character. Think small town America with a bustling Main Street supported by nice paying jobs behind the scenes and off the beaten path for the residents to work at. Think of saying with pride, ‘I live in Bridgton’ with the normal response being, ‘Oh, that is such a beautiful area.’ This need to move ahead should far outweigh the fear of those already established here that want no changes to upset their current lifestyles. This is the equivalent to older folks with no kids in school not wanting to support a public school. Our future is in the hands of the generations after us. This holds true for small towns, as well. In order for us to have a chance in this fast paced and changing world, we need to be forward thinking and on the offensive to attract what we want for growth. The only other options are failure as a community or some outside influence deciding Bridgton’s fate.”
Figoli said, in conclusion, “I take pride in being here, and when elected, my focus will be on creating an organized community that we can all be proud of — one that prospers from our lakes and mountains but also attracts companies that provide good jobs, people that desire to come to our town, to be entertained, while adding to our income and tax base. This will allow Bridgton’s working residents an opportunity to prosper and not be burdened with out of proportion tax debts. This also aids retired and part time residents to utilize our local commerce for goods and services. It is time for new ideas and perspectives. Support me June 12 and let’s get moving.”
Candidate: Adam Grant
Planning Board candidate Adam Grant grew up in South Casco and now resides in South Bridgton. A 1993 graduate of Lake Region High School, Grant, who is 38 years old, has been a barber in Raymond, since 1994. He is also a member of the Bridgton Lions Club.
Grant said he wants to take part in the direction the town takes in its development and believes that, as a lifelong area resident, he has the background knowledge to be able to accomplish that.
“I want to be involved in the future planning of this town, and because I regularly attend municipal meetings, I believe I have a growing knowledge of the different issues,” said Grant.
“I’m from this area,” Grant stated, “and I feel I know this area and maybe have a younger perspective of what Bridgton’s future might be. There was an open position, and I feel I am doing my civic duty by running for the planning board.”
Grant said he encourages voters who go the polls here on June 12 to write his name in on the ballot for the alternate planning board position for which no one took out nomination papers.
“I would like to serve in any capacity, as a member of the planning board,” said Grant.
Candidate: Deanna “Dee” Miller
Incumbent Bridgton Planning Board member Deanna “Dee” Miller said she is seeking re-election to the board because she wants to continue working toward Bridgton having “a bright and productive future.”
“It’s always been about Bridgton,” said Miller. “Years ago, my family (husband and two sons) began a tradition — August in Bridgton. I always wanted never to leave, and Bridgton finally became our permanent home in 1995, shortly after we both retired. I began working for our town, as a way to give back for all of our pleasant summers, and to assure our productive future.”
Miller said her volunteerism with different community organizations and committees has given her a broad and working knowledge of various town issues.
“My retailing background guided me to groups that would bring ‘busyness’ to town,” stated Miller. “I joined the Armory Committee, worked to establish the Bridgton Community Center, and served on its inaugural board. I established Senior College at Bridgton, and serve on its steering committee. I was on the initial board of the Rufus Porter Museum. All of these organizations offer programs that bring active and interested people into the center of town.”
Miller said further, “I was appointed to the Economic/Community Development Committee (now the CDC) in 1997, and am one of its longest serving members. I worked on the Kent plan, helped to create TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) districts intended to broaden business activity, supported funding for town improvements and additional municipal parking. I share in formulating the CDC development policies and projects that are recommended to the Bridgton Board of Selectmen.”
A longtime member of the planning board, Miller spoke of what has been accomplished by that board and how she has contributed to those efforts.
“As a member of the Bridgton Planning Board, I have worked to simplify the application process, pass the Tower and Sign Ordinances, and update other ordinances that govern Board procedures,” Miller said. “I support efforts for effective fire protection, pedestrian safety, and those design and performance standards that promote economic development and preserve Bridgton’s classic New England character.”
Furthermore, said Miller, “The planning board’s primary function is to oversee applications to ensure that the standards established by town meeting are properly met — and during my tenure on the board, I have never voted to deny an application, so long as those standards have been satisfied. Because Bridgton Planning Board meetings involve public inquiry as well as formal board review, it can be difficult to reach an outcome that suits everyone. I respect the positions of both applicants and members of the public and try to reach an acceptable balance of opinion. I want all parties to an issue to leave a meeting knowing that they have been treated fairly.”
In conclusion, Miller said, “Throughout these activities, I have met and learned from many people. Colleagues, town officials, and office staff constantly demonstrate what a diverse group of people can accomplish by working together. I have lived in Bridgton for over 15 years. Bridgton is my adopted hometown — but, ever since my younger son and his wife have moved here, it is my grandson’s hometown. I want Bridgton to have a bright and productive future, and know that this will allow him and all of our townspeople to have one, too.”