OAKLAND — The head of the Kennebec Regional Development Authority plans to brief the agency’s member communities about progress at the FirstPark commercial complex and his vision for the future in a series of presentations, according to Oakland Town Manager Gary Bowman.

Brad Jackson, who was appointed head of the agency two years ago, will speak to the Oakland Town Council at its Feb. 25 meeting about progress being made at FirstPark, the 285-acre commercial and industrial park on Kennedy Memorial Drive near the Oakland-Waterville boundary, and talk about his “new vision” for KRDA, Bowman said.

Jackson plans to make presentations in other member towns in order to downplay some of the negative publicity KRDA and First Park have received, Bowman added.

“He wants to ease some of the angst,” Bowman said.

Jackson did not return multiple calls and emails Tuesday. His presentations come in advance of a March 26 vote on the KRDA annual operating budget. Residents of the 22 towns and two cities in the KRDA are eligible to vote on the operating budget, which totaled $956,000 for the current fiscal year. The cities and towns fund more than 60 percent of the budget.

KRDA was established in 1999 as a quasi-municipal body to stimulate economic development in Kennebec and Somerset counties. FirstPark was established in 2000 with investments from 24 area communities, which also were supposed to share in its proceeds.

However, the 3,000 jobs park advocates predicted would be lured to FirstPark largely have failed to materialize. The park’s biggest employer, a T-Mobile call center, employs around 600 and was built in 2003. Most recently, in November 2014, Road King Technologies, a Montreal-based company that makes fleet management systems, announced its plans to open a U.S. headquarters at FirstPark.

KRDA member towns still are paying off the bonds that were used to develop the park, and as of last year they had lost more than $5 million on the project.

Questions also have been raised about the process some communities used to join the agency 15 years ago. Last November, the city attorney for Gardiner told the City Council there a ballot referendum should have been held on whether to join the agency and appoint representatives to its governing board. Gardiner joined by City Council vote, raising the question of whether Gardiner and other communities, including Winslow, Waterville and Pittsfield, had joined the agency properly.

Gardiner councilors have not acted on the attorney’s findings, and town officials from other cities and towns have said they are not concerned about the 15-year-old issue.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


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