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BRUNSWICK — Town councilors unanimously urged Gov.-elect Paul LePage to appoint Town Manager Gary Brown to the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority board of directors.
“I support this fully,” Councilor Margo Knight said, adding she is often approached by members of the public who say Brown should be on the MRRA.
“I’ve heard, ‘He’s isn’t on there?'” Council Chairman Joanne King said. “There have been so many transitional figures and there needs to be stability. The manager is the one that has a lot of the answers to questions being asked.”
Councilor Gerald Favreau said continuity was lost when Brown, who previously served while he was the assistant town manager, was not renominated to the board last year by Gov. John Baldacci.
“We need him back on the board as soon as possible,” Favreau said.
Responding to a letter from a resident expressing concern Brown’s municipal duties may suffer if he is appointed to MRRA, council Vice Chairman Deborah Atwood said Brunswick Naval Air Station is part of the town, and “an important part of the town manager’s role.”
Councilor Ben Tucker agreed. He said it is “essential” for Brown to be on the MRRA because he knows both Topsham and Brunswick, the two towns most impacted by the base closure.
In a letter to LePage, councilors said “… the closing of Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB) is a significant issue in Maine, and even more so here in the host community. … The main base is located in the geographic center of Brunswick. As the base redevelops into the community, it is the Town of Brunswick that will be involved with planning, zoning, permitting, police, fire, ems protection, education and virtually every other service that municipalities provide.”
The letter also notes the importance of having local representation and stability on the MRRA board:
“As this community struggles with the current economy, we are further impacted by the closing of NASB. It is critical that the Town government be represented at the policy setting level of the redevelopment of NASB. In just over three years, this 11 member Board has had 19 different members. There has been a recent resignation on the MRRA Board, bringing the total to 20 members in three years. Clearly it has been difficult to maintain stability in light of the level of turnover on Board members. The Council would specifically and respectfully request that Gary Brown, Brunswick Town Manager be re-appointed to the MRRA Board of Trustees.”
MRRA board members are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Despite letters of support from Brunswick councilors, Bowdoin College officials and the MRRA board chairman, Baldacci did not renominate Brown in 2009.
Brown’s supporters claimed the governor’s action politicized the process, although Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, who advised Baldacci, said he omitted Brown in an effort to depoliticize the MRRA.
State law prohibits politicians from serving on the board. Gerzofsky argued that Brown was too closely tied to his employer, the elected Brunswick Town Council, and would not have been confirmed.
Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.