On Tuesday, June 5, the Joint Economic Development Committee discussed Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor selectmen’s May 23 workshop. Committee co-chair Wendy Wolf described the meeting as a long overdue, interesting discussion on economic development and where the two towns stand on it.
Wolf said financial matters were of most concern to both boards as representatives from Edgecomb and Southport participate in discussions, but that both Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor agreed continuing collaboration is a great idea.
Boothbay Harbor member Tom Woodin said that with only 45 minutes for the boards to talk, there would have to be another meeting. "We definitely have to meet again and address some of the hard issues about financing and who is actually going to implement it.”
Boothbay Harbor member Ken Rayle noted there were no specific details on actions of interest to the towns and which actions may get priority.
“… Whatever we get going – how can it be consistently funded into the future? Otherwise, it's so fragile to go on and perhaps that's where the whole idea of BREDCo has some appeal. It can put us in a position to acquire funding that isn't necessarily municipally related."
Boothbay Harbor member Mike Tomko agreed that future collaboration seemed to have great support between the two towns, but reiterated Rayle’s point that there were no discernible specifics about the master plan in which either town would have a vested interest.
"I am confused how we can create an entity responsible with directing whatever ... when we don't know what that is," said Tomko adding that it could be BREDCo, a town planner or a contractual agreement, but until he hears what the taxpayers of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor want, through their selectmen, he cannot imagine what type of entity will be driving the goals.
Boothbay member Dan Bryer said he felt there was still a question about who will do the work. The region still needs to figure out what it wants to do and how to do it, and since BREDCo could not stand on its own to implement the master plan, the conversation died, he said. "We either need to figure out BREDCo or move on.”
Woodin reiterated if there is going to be commitment to pushing the master plan, it cannot come through part-time staff. Part-time effort will give part-time results, said Woodin.
Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and JEDC member Patricia Royall pitched that the Chamber has the office space for a staff person and with its central location, it could be viewed as a neutral place.
“It's similar to what Lewiston-Auburn does,” said Royall. “Their economic development office is part of the Chamber.”
Wolf said the only problem with a staff person hired by the towns being housed at the Chamber is, board members from both towns would be unlikely to fund the position.
Royall said she is concerned about creating another nonprofit and would rather see someone hired, a planner or a consultant.
"We've got so many community groups working on all kinds of different things ... We need one person who's responsible to both municipalities and Southport and Edgecomb if they are going to be part of it," said Royall.
Woodin reported that by the end of June, the JEDC will have around $36,700 – $16,700 from Boothbay Harbor and $20,000 from Boothbay. From the budgets recently passed, there will be an additional $50,000 going to the JEDC and with $19,500 committed to Green Tree Events, the JEDC will have $67,200 for spending.
Member Andy Hamblett reminded the committee the Boothbay Region Community Resource Council did not start as a nonprofit, it began as a concerned group of community members who wanted to see positive change in their neighborhoods and greater area.
"We could not have done the work that Camoin did ... that Green Tree did and we hired somebody to do it,” said Hamblett. “So, at some point we need to take some assets and have somebody provide leadership and do we really have to worry about where that comes from?"