Gardiner elected officials are expected to take up the proposal of hiring a planning and economic development director when they meet Wednesday night.

During budget discussions earlier this year, the Gardiner City Council debated whether to add a full-time economic development director to city staff after a little more than three years without one.

While elected officials approved a city budget that included some funding for the economic development position, they were also in the process of hiring a city manager, and opted to wait to make a decision on that until that person had started work.

Christine Landes began her duties as city manager in mid-August.

They were also split on the best course to take. Some said they preferred to see someone hired whose sole duty is to promote economic development for Gardiner, while others thought securing the services via contract with an organization like the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments would be a better approach.

“This is a council that can see things from a different perspective and still come together to make a decision,” Mayor Thom Harnett said.


While he supports the first option, he said, he is only one of eight City Council members.

Landes said Monday the issue is a budget item.

“There’s funding for November through June in the budget, Landes said.

If the City Council opts to fill the position, the timing means someone could be hired to start relatively soon.

The proposal is to hire a planning and economic development director.

Currently, Gardiner has neither position.


In December 2014, Nate Rudy, who headed up Gardiner’s economic and community development program, left the city to become the executive director of Waterville Creates, whose goal was to promote Waterville as an arts destination. Rudy has since become city manager in Hallowell.

In the wake of his departure, city officials opted not to fill the position to help close an expected budget gap of $500,000.

Instead, city councilors made the policy decision to outsource economic development functions to Gardiner Main Street and its then-executive director, Patrick Wright. Scott Morelli, who was the city manager at that time, took on some of the administrative functions of the position, including overseeing the code enforcement officer and the brownfields project at the former T.W. Dick site. The city’s Economic Development Committee was also restored, and they also opted to increase funding for a contract planner.

When Wright announced he was leaving his position at Gardiner Main Street earlier this year, he said he was also giving up the economic development coordinator position. Gardiner Main Street’s board opted at that time not to include the city’s contract for economic development services in its job description.

Harnett said he credits the gains that the city of Gardiner has made in the seven years he has served in office are directly attributable to the work of both Rudy and Wright.

City elected officials will also:


• Discuss and consider approving a poverty tax abatement

• Discuss and consider approving a credit enhancement agreement with a business in Libby Hill Business Park

• Hold a public hearing and a first read of amendments to the city’s Dog Control Provision

• Hold public hearing and second reads of two proposed amendments to the city’s Land Use Ordinance about subdivision rules and site plan reviews

• Hold a public hearing and second read of amendments to the General Assistance Ordinance

• Hold a discussion about the status of the grant agreement with Hoppy Days LLC


• Discuss and evaluate safety concerns about the tree near the corner of Maine Avenue and Water Street and its possible removal

• Discuss the new “opt-in” adult use marijuana option.

Two executive sessions, which are closed to the public, are scheduled for the start of the meeting. The open portion of the meeting will start when they are completed. The Gardiner City Council meets at 6 p.m., Wednesday at the City Council Chamber in Gardiner City Hall at 6 Church St.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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