August 12, 2020
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Ensuring a Sustainable Westbrook

Published Aug. 22, 2018

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I am concerned about the Westbrook selectmen’s decision to cut Westbrook’s town planner position from full time to 24 hours per week over the objections of members of the Planning Commission, as reported in the Aug. 8 article, “Westbrook Selectmen Approve Demolition, Job Revision.”

A town planner offers expert advice on land use and economic development to various town commissions, including planning, zoning, town center revitalization, conservation, and economic development that is vital for ensuring a sustainable Westbrook given the economic and environmental challenges we face. As Westbrook’s downtown struggles to support businesses, our state is facing a financial crisis so our town is likely to see more cuts in state funding. Also, we need to develop a coastal resiliency plan to adapt to rising sea levels and other effects of climate change.

Addressing these challenges in Westbrook requires a full-time town planner. I appreciate the Board of Selectmen’s desire to control costs, but I don’t think reducing the town planner position is effective cost savings. I hope that the Board of Selectmen agrees when it reassesses the position in six months.

Kate Gilstad-Hayden