Brunswick council OKs funding applications for Kestrel; rejects anti-war ballot measure

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BRUNSWICK — The Town Council on Tuesday unanimously approved two requests for state aid on behalf of Kestrel Aircraft Co., which is expected to be an anchor tenant at the redeveloped Brunswick Naval Air Station.

One application was for a $200,000 grant from the Community Development Block Grant Economic Development Program, to help fund Kestrel’s building improvements at Hangar 6.

Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, said MRRA will match those funds with $1 million of its money and other grants.

The other application was for a $200,000 CDBG Development Fund loan, which Kestrel will match and repay.

Kestrel CEO Alan Klapmeier said his company’s goal is to build a personal transportation or business aircraft.

“We’re very familiar with the process of designing airplanes, certifying airplanes, manufacturing airplanes, selling airplanes,” he said. “And in fact, the hardest part is putting together the financing.”

Council Chairwoman Joanne King said “this industry is exactly what was called for by the (Brunswick Local Redevelopment Authority’s) master plan, and the composite industry is also a big piece here, so this is a win-win for all of us.”

MRRA officials have said the $100 million project could generate as many as 300 jobs when production begins within roughly three years.

The Town Council also approved a CDBG Economic Development Program Grant application on behalf of Maine Tool & Machine, which also plans to move to the redeveloped base property, which will be called Brunswick Landing.

Later in Tuesday’s meeting, the council rejected a proposal, sponsored by Councilors Deborah Atwood and Benet Pols, to place language on the Nov. 2 ballot asking voters to oppose military spending in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

The proposal was: “We, the citizens of Brunswick, want our tax dollars spent on education, health, safety, environmental protection and the infrastructure of Brunswick, rather than on war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.”

Atwood, who said the proposal came from resident Selma Sternlieb, emphasized that the matter was “not about whether any of us agree with that statement; it’s about whether we are willing to give Brunswick residents a chance to tell us whether they agree with it or not.”

Sternlieb, a member of Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks, said “it’s time we examined our priorities” and that “cities are squabbling over crumbs while the Pentagon gobbles up millions.”

But King said such matters are not within the council’s local scope.

Councilor Gerald Favreau said that if enacted, the resolution would “send the wrong message to our men and women in uniform, who are stationed not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but around the world, protecting our democracy. … Foreign policy, state and federal issues, are best addressed by those elected officials who have direct oversight and total knowledge of these matters.”

The council voted 6-3 to reject the proposal. Councilors David Watson, Benjamin Tucker, Suzan Wilson, John Perreault, King and Favreau voted against it, while Margo Knight, Pols and Atwood voted in favor.

The panel also set a public hearing date for Sept. 20 to discuss an ordinance to authorize both the acquisition of land and the issuing of bonds and notes for no more than $1.175 million to purchase land for a new police station.

The property, at the corner of Pleasant and Stanwood streets, is comprised of four parcels with residences and a building that used to house the Brunswick House of Pizza. The existing buildings would be demolished.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or

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.