Merrymeeting Resilience Message Board › Natural Resource Planner position
I received the following e-mail from a neighbor who is on the Brunswick Planning Commission. It might be of interest to any of you who are Brunswick residents.
I wanted to share some news I learned last week, in hopes that perhaps you will join me in expressing concern.
Last week, the Brunswick Town Manager announced that he was proposing the elimination of the part-time Natural Resource Planner position. While I understand that fiscal responsibility is critically important as revenues continue to shrink, and that the Town Council and Town Manager face some difficult decisions, it is short-sighted to eliminate this position. Brunswick has a vast array of natural resources, which are both widespread and fragile - including 15+ miles of coastline, productive marine resources, 375+ acres of town-owned open space, 5000+ acres of unfragmented forest habitat, as well as a rich tapestry of other natural resources that require protection, oversight, and planning.
Brunswick is a unique place in Maine - although we are the sixth-largest municipality in the state, we have maintained some of the character of a small town surrounded by a rural landscape, and our natural resources play an important role in our community's character. In part, this is because Brunswick has been an innovative leader - planning for development to happen in appropriate locations where infrastructure already exists, conducting surveys of important natural resources in town, advocating for the protection of coastal open space on BNAS and Maquoit Bay, and participating in regional collaboratives for those natural resources we share with our neighboring towns. While we have volunteer committees that work on these issues, as a member of the Conservation Commission, I have seen firsthand how critical it is to have a dedicated and knowledgeable staff person to provide leadership and direction for all these issues.
In the Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2008, the Town recognized the importance of the natural resources planner, "who works with various town boards and commissions and continues to identify important natural resources. This position has been vital in the ongoing protection of resources and will continue to be needed as the BNAS site becomes available, and as additional growth pressures are balanced with natural resource protection throughout the Town. Continuation of this position helps ensure that the public is fully aware of the extent of our community's valuable habitats and gives the Planning Department the resources to craft creative solutions to pressing environmental issues." As we make these difficult fiscal decisions, I would hope the Town Council would continue to be guided by the values and vision set forth in the Comprehensive Plan adopted just 18 months ago.
I plan to contact the Town Manager and my Town Councilor to voice my opposition to this proposal. I would encourage you to join me and to spread the word. If you'd like further information about the role of the Natural Resources Planner, please let me know. If you do plan to contact your Councilor, I have also included two other letters that may be of interest to you.