Bill would give towns a louder voice at Brunswick Landing
BRUNSWICK — Legislation proposed by state Rep. Matthea Daughtry, D-Brunswick, would strengthen regional representation on the board in charge of redeveloping the former naval air base, now known as Brunswick Landing.
Local control of redevelopment at Brunswick Landing has been a source of contention in the past year. Daughtry said her bill would be a step forward for the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority's relationship with Brunswick, Topsham and other communities.
"We saw this as a way to say publicly that we want to work together and that we should have a stronger conversation about the future of Brunswick Landing," she said Tuesday.
Daughtry said she expects Rep. Andrew Mason, D-Topsham, to join her as lead co-sponsor when LD 1549 comes out of the revisor's office within the next week. She said legislators from Bath, Freeport and Woolwich have also expressed support for the bill.
She said she was hoping to receive support from the other two members of Brunswick's delegation, but Sen. Stan Gerzofsky said he is not in a position to support it. Rep. Charles Priest was not available for comment Wednesday.
Gerzofsky called the bill "ill-informed."
He said Brunswick is currently being represented by five members on the MRRA board and that many of the impacted communities have been represented in the past and present.
"I just don't see how this will change anything." Gerzofsky said.
Current state statute requires that seven members of MRRA's board of trustees be residents of Androscoggin County, Cumberland County and Sagadahoc County, and be nominated by the "primary impact communities."
All members of MRRA's board – besides the Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner, George Gervais – are appointed by Gov. Paul LePage and then confirmed by the state Senate.
Daughtry said she's unsure whether her bill will change those current board requirements to be more specific or mandate a new advisory group to meet with the MRRA board regularly.
"Right now we're not quite sure. We'll be able to hammer out the details in committee," she said.
In the past, Brunswick has attempted to keep a seat on the MRRA board, although it lost that position when Town Manager Gary Brown was not reappointed by Gov. John Baldacci in 2009.
Last year, LePage's decision to overlook the town's nomination of Business Development Manager Denise Clavette helped fuel the Town Council's decision to table negotiations over a tax increment financing agreement with MRRA, something the council is now revisiting.
LePage recently renominated John Moncure, the board's current chairman. He also nominated John Peters, a Harpswell resident and vice president of NGL Energy Partners, to replace retiring Vice Chairman Don Hudson. Both nominations are awaiting confirmation.
Although the Town Council recently missed an opportunity to submit a nominee, the council is now expecting to vet recommendations for the next nomination round, expected to happen in March or April.
Gerzofsky, who had previously opposed Brown's nomination to MRRA's board, said the council is taking the right direction now by recommending citizens.