Tracey Desjardins, left, shakes hands with Gardiner City Councilor Russell Greenleaf, as Councilors Marc Rines and Kathy Brown look on. The City Council accepted Desjardins’ resignation Wednesday as the city’s economic development director. She has accepted a similar position with the city of Saco. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

GARDINER — Tracey Desjardins, who has served for three years as director of economic development for the city of Gardiner, is leaving later this month to take a similar position with the city of Saco.

The Gardiner City Council accepted Desjardins’ letter of resignation at its meeting Wednesday.

Gardiner City Manager Andrew Carlton thanked Desjardins for her work on behalf of the city and for helping him in his first weeks in his own job, which he began in June.

“She taught me a lot the first couple weeks I was here about how municipal government works,” said Carlton, who came to municipal administration from school district administration. “I think she’s given a lot here, and we’ll miss her for sure.”

When Desjardins was hired in the summer of 2019, she had worked for six years as the director of economic and community development in Lisbon and five years in the Auburn Economic and Community Development Office.

While in Gardiner, she worked to structure how city staff members work with the Planning Board and the Ordinance Review Committee, and worked with her staff — Kris McNeill, code enforcement officer, and Angelia Christopher, administrative assistant — on significant changes to ordinances to address the state’s fledgling adult-use cannabis market, tiny homes and the growth of solar electricity projects.


“I couldn’t be more pleased about what we have accomplished here,” Desjardins said. “We were all new here together.”

As she prepares to move on from Gardiner, she is overseeing the final work to complete the renovation of McKay Park, a pocket park at the west end of the city’s main downtown block.

Tracey Desjardins has resigned as Gardiner’s economic development director to accept a similar position with the city of Saco. Contributed photo

“We were addressing the need for safety more than anything in that park,” she said earlier this week. “What we were hearing is that people wouldn’t go in it because it was dark and they couldn’t see the stairs. The way the stairs were organized made it kind of tricky to maneuver it.”

The project was one of the projects for which Desjardins secured grant funding. She was also successful in assembling grant money to pay for a downtown master plan, which positions Gardiner well to go after other grants to meet goals identified in the plan.

Gardiner was among the Maine cities and towns to win a share of federal funding to pay for assessment of brownfields inside city limits. Gardiner’s share of the $24.2 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is $500,000.

At the time of the award, Desjardins said such awards grants are normally smaller, and not all communities seeking the funding received it.


Desjardins’ tenure also included the sale of several lots at the city-owned Libby Hill Business Park.

As she looks to her next job, she said it is a great opportunity and she is excited for the next chapter in her life.

With more than 20,000 people, Saco has about four times the population of Gardiner. Like Gardiner, it has a riverfront, a Main Street organization and an industrial and business park. Unlike Gardiner, the York County community has ocean frontage.

“Everything there is going to be on a much larger scale,” Desjardins said.

Desjardins’ final day in Gardiner is set for Oct. 11, and she is scheduled to begin her job in Saco on Oct. 17.

Carlton said he expects the economic development director position to be posted next week.


The city has also been hiring for other positions, including in the Police and Fire departments and Department of Public Works.

Jerry Douglass, who worked as the Public Works director for a little more than two years, left in September to become town manager in Durham. A search is underway to fill that position.

Carlton said that position has been advertised and the city has begun receiving applications. He said he plans to put together a hiring committee to review the applications and make a selection. There is no timeframe at this point, he said, because he wants to find a candidate who is a good fit for the city and its residents.

“I am pretty particular,” Carlton said, “and I want to get the best candidate possible.”

He said he will follow the same process when hiring Desjardins’ successor as economic development director.

“We’re sad to see her go,” Carlton said, “but anybody who can move on to a bigger opportunity, you always wish them well.”

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