Temporary shutdown of some Brunswick town services expected during Town Hall move

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BRUNSWICK — A possible three-day shutdown of some municipal services, the opening of the new Town Hall, the search for a new town manager and the creation of a harbor commission topped the Town Council’s agenda on Monday.

At the meeting, Interim Town Manager John Eldridge said some municipal services and departments are tentatively expected to shut down April 4-8 as staff moves into the new Town Hall at 85 Union St.

The new Town Hall, formerly Bowdoin College’s McLellan Building, is expected to be fully operational by April 9, Eldridge said, with substantial completion of renovations by March 28. The town has been using the new Council Chambers at 85 Union St. for a few weeks.

The shutdown would only impact the town for three days, since April 5 and 6 fall on a weekend. Eldridge said the dates could change if the renovation schedule is revised.

The temporary closure means the town’s assessing, clerk, code enforcement, planning and tax departments will be unavailable.

Eldridge said the town will be prepared for Tax Day on April 15,  regardless of any change to the Town Hall renovation schedule.

“We will be in a position to, if we have to, do them by laptop,” he said. “There’s never a good time to do a shutdown, but the end of the month was even worse for us, so it seems like these are the best days.”

After the meeting, Eldridge said not much has changed in costs associated with Town Hall renovation since he revealed two weeks ago that it could contribute to a $285,000 deficit in the town budget.

He added that exterior work on the building’s trim could cost an additional $110,000, according to an estimate by Warren Construction, but is not considered a part of the project budget. Eldridge said that work could happen by the summer.

“Some of the work really needs to be done this summer,” Eldridge said, “so it’s just a question of whether or not we do all of it now, or we try to space the work out for two years.”

Town manager

Also at Monday’s meeting, council Chairman Benet Pols said the council will meet in a workshop March 17 at 6:30 p.m. to interview three consultants who have submitted proposals to assist the council in its search for a new town manager.

The proposed fees from the consultants range from $3,500 to $10,000.

Pols said the search and interview process could take at least 90 days, based on the proposals from Strategic Talent Management in Brunswick, Peabody Consulting Group in Brunswick, and the Maine Municipal Association in Augusta.

The three proposals were narrowed down from an initial batch of five last week by the council’s town manager search committee, which includes Pols, Councilors Jane Millett and John Richardson, and School Board member Joy Prescott.

Former Town Manager Don Gerrish, who retired in 2008, is representing Peabody Consulting Group and currently serves as Wiscasset’s interim town manager.

While Strategic Talent Management submitted a range of different proposals varying in costs from $3,500 to $10,000, Peabody Consulting Group is asking for $5,000 and Maine Municipal Association is seeking $4,900, Pols said.

He said the selection process would involve meeting with the council and town staff to discuss qualifications and advertising for a new town manager, and discussing how to involve staff and citizens in the interview process.

The town would then advertise the job opening, wait for responses, review and narrow down candidates, hold initial interviews, perform background checks, and then conduct additional interviews, if necessary.

Former Town Manager Gary Brown announced his resignation last December, with a planned March 31 departure date. However, a divided council later voted to dismiss Brown on Feb. 10, which Brown attributed to “personality conflicts” between him and some councilors.

Harbor commission

As part of a new Harbor Management Plan the council adopted two weeks ago, the council unanimously voted to create the all-new Rivers and Coastal Waters Commission, which will represent a a range of interests for the town’s waterfront.

The charge of the new commission is to implement management objectives and priorities outlined in the Harbor Management Plan, which was developed over several months last year “to help the town understand (waterfront) uses and if need be, develop new strategies for future use,” according to a memo from Marine Resource Officer and Harbor Master Dan Devereaux.

Examples of commission work could include studying and evaluating public use and access to coastal waters, and making “advisory recommendations to the (council) regarding policy and regulatory matters concerning the town’s jurisdictional waters,” according to the commission’s charge.

The council will have final say over any commission recommendations.

Voting members will include one member each from the Recreation Commission, Conservation Commission and Marine Resources Committee; three citizen members, who may represent different geographic areas in town, and one member who represents water-dependent commercial interests.

Two councilors will serve as non-voting, ex-officio members, and the harbor master will serve as the commission’s staff member.

Applications for prospective members are due by March 17, and are available online at brunswickme.org, or at the town clerk’s office at 28 Federal St. They can be submitted to that address, or to Town Clerk Fran Smith by email at smithfm@brunswickme.org. Interviews will be held on March 19.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.