Brunswick council, MRRA discuss TIF, fields lease

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BRUNSWICK — The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority is proposing a tax increment financing plan at the redeveloped Brunswick Naval Air Station, with revenue split equally by the authority and town.

MRRA and the Town Council met in a joint workshop Tuesday to discuss the proposal, as well as the town’s lease of recreation fields on the base property.

The authority says the TIF will assist in promoting job creation and economic development at the base, which will close next year and be redeveloped as Brunswick Landing.

MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said the anticipated tax revenue from new development on the property, excluding housing, is about $25 million over the next 20 years.

The proposal calls for a 30-year development program that would help fund about $59 million in improvements to transportation, property maintenance expenses, property demolition, land development engineering, surveying and planning, and improvements to electric and telecommunications systems.

Once MRRA has received $12.5 million in revenue, the authority proposes, the town will re-evaluate the program.

Brunswick Town Manager Gary Brown said the town may be interested in pursuing the establishment of an overall cap on revenues that would be shared back to MRRA.

He also told MRRA board members that “I think the council is very supportive of doing things that help with job creation and economic development at Brunswick Landing, and it appears as though you’ve targeted many of those things in your proposed uses.”

Levesque said the proposal, which he called “a starting point,” is a typical economic industrial development type of TIF. Housing would have to come under a separate TIF application to the state, he said.

Toward the end of the one-hour meeting the two boards discussed the lease agreement for the recreation property. The town has also proposed that a lighted softball field and tennis court, which are to be conveyed to Southern Maine Community College, be available to the town. Levesque said that  will have to be arranged between the town and the college.

“As their student population ramps up they will have greater use, but until (then) we would have greater use of those two facilities,” Brown said.

Through a lease agreement with MRRA, the town’s Parks and Recreation Department would be able to use other recreational assets on the base property, including three ball fields, a tennis court and a multipurpose field, “until such time that a business enterprise, or some other redevelopment, comes forward … to Brunswick Landing, and makes a demand for that specific footprint on the property,” Brown said.

Levesque noted that the Brunswick Local Redevelopment Authority, which preceded the MRRA, opted in 2007 not to grant the town a group of recreational assets as a public benefit conveyance because they were in places where other redevelopment was expected. But he added that the BLRA did recommend that an equivalent amount of acreage – 65 acres – be set aside for the town as a public benefit conveyance to accommodate future recreational activities as the original acreage comes under demand for redevelopment.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.