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Goodbye Brunswick Naval Air Station, hello Brunswick Landing

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Goodbye Brunswick Naval Air Station, hello Brunswick Landing

BRUNSWICK — Soon after the decision was made in 2005 to close Brunswick Naval Air Station, civilian redevelopers began pondering what to call the 3,300-acre base after the U.S. Navy relinquishes ownership in 2011.

On Tuesday, after considering nearly 80 suggestions – 47 submitted by the public – the agency overseeing the civilian transition revealed its decision: "Brunswick Landing: Maine's Center for Innovation."

The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority settled on the name during its Feb. 17 retreat.

On Tuesday, Steve Levesque, MRRA's executive director, said the choice closely mirrored a suggestion from a class of Brunswick High School students. Several of those students, along with teacher Rick Wilson, were present for the announcement on Tuesday.

Levesque said Nancy Marshall Communications of Augusta was also hired to consult on the decision.

According to Levesque, Brunswick Landing was among the top 10 names considered by the MRRA staff and board. Other considerations included Brunswick Center, Brunswick Smart Park, Merrymeeting Commons and Northeast Technology Center.

Levesque said the name criteria included conveying the geographic region and the high-tech nature of the redevelopment plan. The name, he said, also had to be catchy, meaningful and easy to spell.

The board also welcomed its newest members, Steve Weems, Sande Updegraph, Sally DelGreco and Rita Armstrong, all of whom were recently confirmed by the Legislature.

Adam Cote, who is out of the country, was the only member who did not attend the meeting.

In business matters, the board voted unanimously to adopt new protocols for businesses interested in settling at Brunswick Landing. Levesque said the guidelines are meant to ensure that companies meet specific criteria, including an adequate business plan, revenue generation, job creation and goals that are consistent with the facility's reuse plan and principles.

The board also voted unanimously to adopt new bylaws that govern the agency. Among them is a provision giving the MRRA the power of eminent domain – the ability to acquire property from abutters.

Weems briefly questioned that provision. However, Levesque said he didn't foresee a circumstance that would require the agency to use it.

Chairman Art Mayo also discussed the agency's hope to spread news of its redevelopment efforts to the rest of the state.

Mayo said the MRRA would be working with Bowdoin College professor Chris Potholm and Rick McCarthy, of Maine Tomorrow, to spread publicity about the agency's work during the civilian transition.

Potholm, a political science professor, is a frequent press resource for Maine political analysis.

McCarthy has been involved in state politics for several years, serving as a chief of staff and policy adviser to several presidents of the state Senate. According to its Web site, Maine Tomorrow is a for-profit firm specializing in community development and public affairs. Some of its clients include ecomaine, the Maine Grocers Association and Gorrill Palmer Consulting Engineers.

The MRRA board of directors will meet again on May 18. The agency will hold a building design guidelines open house on March 31 at Brunswick Junior High School at 6 p.m.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net