Manager's contract, train station management on tap for Brunswick council

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BRUNSWICK — After spending most of August in executive session to discuss the hiring of a new chief executive, the Town Council on Sept. 8 is expected to finalize a permanent employment contract with acting Town Manager Gary Brown.

The ratification of Brown’s contract comes after a hiring process that turned tumultuous following an Aug. 5 closed-door session, where the council voted to begin negotiations with Brown. Experts on the state Freedom of Access law said the private vote was illegal.

Since then several residents have called the hiring process tainted and asked the council to start over. 

Questions over the closed-door meeting prompted the council to hold a special public meeting on Aug. 12 that essentially duplicated the Aug. 5 decision. The council, on advice from the town attorney, has maintained the Aug. 5 meeting was legal because its closed-door action was not final. 

Also on the Sept. 8 agenda are items to discuss the future of the council’s Maine Street Station Oversight Committee, and a proposal from the Brunswick Downtown Association to become a property manager of the town-leased train station at the $23.5 million development.

The council will also set a public hearing to amend the Tax Increment Financing district at Cook’s Corner. The TIF expires in October and officials are hoping to restructure it to use funds for road improvement projects near the intersection of Thomas Point Road and Bath Road. The project, estimated at over $2 million, is part of the town’s Capital Improvement Program. 

The meeting will also be the council’s first meeting at Maine Street Station. During the spring, the council voted to sublease meeting space from Bowdoin College on the second floor of 16 Station Ave. The meeting space, in Room 217, will supplement the town’s meeting space on Industry Road.

Both the train station and the meeting space are included in the estimated $3 million the town has committed to the Maine Street Station project, which is a public-private venture. 

The council will also discuss possible rules governing swimming in the Androscoggin River. The issue was prompted by a pair of incidents this summer, the most recent resulting in the Aug. 20 death of Pownal resident Brian Jewett. Jewett had been swimming in the river above the hydroelectric dam near the Swinging Bridge.

It’s unclear what swimming restrictions the council can enact or how effective they would be, since there is a popular, small beach on the Topsham side of the river near the bridge.

Chairwoman Hallie Daughtry and Councilors Debbie Atwood have also co-sponsored an item to improve the council’s public communications. 

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. 

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or