South Portland hires sustainability coordinator

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Julie Rosenbach has been selected to fill the revived position of city sustainability coordinator.

Rosenbach worked for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., as an environmental protection specialist liaison between the agency and other federal task forces on waste reduction initiatives and universal waste policies, according to a press release distributed Tuesday.

For the last eight years, Rosenbach has been the sustainability manager at Bates College in Lewiston, where she led development of a five-year sustainability plan and comprehensive climate action plan. Recycling on the campus increased from 23 percent to 40 percent while she was there, according to the press release.  

Rosenbach was selected for the full-time position in South Portland from a pool of 135 candidates from nearly 30 states and five countries. Her annual salary will be more than $57,800.

“I’m excited to join an amazing team of people dedicated to making South Portland a great city,” Rosenbach said in the press release. “I look forward to building on notable accomplishments and helping our community grow more sustainable and resilient.”

The hiring of Rosenbach is one more step toward helping South Portland become more environmentally conscious, City Manager Jim Gailey said. 

In recent years, South Portland has made an effort to reduce its carbon footprint by implementing more sustainable practices. Efforts include the formal adoption of a city-wide Climate Action Plan in November, and the installation of electric car charging stations, and solar panels on some municipal buildings. 

Gailey has taken charge of small initiatives with his staff, like encouraging them to recycle by reducing the number of trash cans to one per floor. He has also expressed interest in providing a composting service at City Hall. 

Rosenbach is slated to start March 9.

Once she becomes acclimated to department functions and city operations, “then a focus can be put towards how to gain greater efficiencies,” Gailey said in an email Wednesday. “Of course Julie will be making herself familiar with the Climate Action Plan and what recommendations are set forth.”

In recent months there have been talks between the City Council, Superintendent of Schools Suzanne Godin and members of the School Board about splitting the cost and uses of the person who fills the position.

While everyone agreed that sharing a sustainability coordinator could benefit the city and the district, School Board members and Godin were generally opposed to funding the position.

Rosenbach will be strictly a city employee for the first year or two, but sharing the position will probably be revisited in the future, Gailey said.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.