The entrance to FirstPark, off Kennedy Memorial Drive in Oakland, is shown in 2020. Twenty-four towns in the region are part of a partnership that has helped fund FirstPark operations over the years. One of those towns, Rome, is moving to withdraw from the partnership because officials there believe they’ve received little in return. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

ROME — More than 20 towns comprise the Kennebec Regional Development Authority, which operates the FirstPark business park in Oakland, and for the first time one of those towns says it is pulling out of the partnership, arguing it’s getting little in return for its investment.

Rome last month notified the authority that it’s dropping out, but the move has not been formalized because the governing body that oversees the authority and FirstPark operations, known as the General Assembly, has not yet responded.

“It’s kind of been a black hole for the town’s money,” Rome First Selectman Paul Anderson said Thursday.

The town has paid about $336,000 over the course of 24 years, with little money sent back to Rome in return, Anderson said. In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the town’s assessment was nearly $30,000.

The authority was established by the Maine Legislature in 1997. FirstPark launched a year later and it encompasses 285 acres in Oakland. Rome is one of 24 towns in Kennebec and Somerset counties that help fund operations in return for a portion of the park’s revenue. Officials said at the time FirstPark opened that it would take years before it would operate in the black.

But the authority’s Portland-based attorney, Jim Katsiaficas, said this week that the authority in its last fiscal year was self-sufficient and no longer relies on payments by member towns to cover its operating costs.


Rome’s selectmen sent a letter to the authority dated Sept. 2 that argues the town has met the criteria for withdrawing, including holding a town vote confirming the intent to withdraw, which Rome did in June 2021.

Katsiaficas said the General Assembly will have to determine at some point whether it believes Rome has met the conditions for leaving.

“If there’s a disagreement between the town and (authority) as to whether or not (the withdrawal) has become effective, then folks can take that to court,” he said.

As of this week the assembly, made up of two representatives from each member town, had not set a date to consider Rome’s withdrawal.

“That’ll be on the agenda for the next General Assembly meeting (on Nov. 17),” Katsiaficas said. “So there’s no timeline, but that’s something they will be considering soon.”

Rome selectmen met earlier this week in executive session to discuss the matter ahead of a meeting with the town attorney.


“I guess I don’t know where this is going,” Anderson said.

FirstPark Executive Director Jim Dinkle said he’s sold four lots in the business park this year and is near closing on another two within the next couple of weeks.

FirstPark is expected to start turning a profit within the next year, he said.

“I’ll be very sorry to see them go,” Dinkle said of Rome.

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