GARDINER — Melissa Lindley, the executive director of Gardiner Main Street, has been hired by the city of Gardiner to serve as its next economic development director and public information officer.

Lindley will step into a vacancy created when Tracey Desjardins, the former director of economic and community development for the city, stepped down in October to accept a similar position with the city of Saco. 

Melissa Lindley, who was recently named the city of Gardiner’s economic development director and public information officer, poses in August 2019 along Water Street in downtown Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

“I think she’s going to fit in really well here,” Gardiner City Manager Andrew Carlton said, to the Gardiner City Council on Dec. 21, as they were set to vote on Lindley’s appointment. “She knows the city a little bit.”

Carlton said the posting for the position drew 16 candidates. After the hiring committee — Carlton, city Finance and HR Manager Denise Brown, District 2 City Councilor Simon West and local businesswoman Janet Slade — conducted a round of interviews, the position was offered to Lindley.

At the time of the vote, Mayor Patricia Hart extended her congratulations to Lindley.

“We’re glad to have you take that position. It’s an important position,” Hart said.


The duties of the position that Lindley has accepted have changed to include grant writing, marketing and communications, and a smaller involvement with the Planning Board and Ordinance Review Committee.

“I do know marketing and communications pretty well, and I know that’s something the city has needed,” she said. “And I know the city and I’ve had my foot in the door with economic development. It seemed like I would have more tools in my belt to push some needles forward.”

She said she has experience writing grants through Gardiner Main Street, and she expects to adapt to the writing of government grants.

Lindley also has experience with at least one of the city’s plans. Gardiner Main Street collaborated with the city and other organizations on the Downtown Master Plan, completed in 2021. The plan outlines goals for making Gardiner’s downtown an attractive and economically vibrant destination.

Lindley was hired as Gardiner Main Street’s executive director in August 2019. Main Street organizations work to strengthen communities through preservation-based economic development in historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.

Her first association with Gardiner Main Street between 2013 and 2016 had been as a volunteer, when she was recruited by then-executive director Patrick Wright. Eventually, she started working there first as part-time program coordinator and then as the full-time program coordinator.


Lindley and her family relocated to San Diego after her husband was transferred there for his job. They returned to Gardiner two years later, and she was hired as Gardiner Main Street’s executive director in 2019.

Gardiner Main Street and the city of Gardiner have been linked before. Wright had served as both Gardiner Main Street executive director and economic development coordinator for the city.

Lindley said some of the most important qualities in a Main Street director are the ability to build relationships and have good communication with building owners, business owners and residents to know what’s going on and be aware of any issues that might arise that would affect them.

“We will miss her terribly,” Dawn Thistle, president of the Gardiner Main Street board, said. “If I have to part with Melissa, the only good way is to give her to Gardiner. It’s going to be a great opportunity to have an even stronger relationship between the city and Gardiner Main Street.”

Thistle said Gardiner Main Street will launch a search for its next executive director this week, and the board hopes to find someone who will be working with Lindley at the city on joint goals.

“She’s leaving big shoes to fill,” Thistle said. “(Gardiner Main Street) has a good reputation, and we want to get someone in who is eager to maintain that and take it further.”

Lindley’s last day at Gardiner Main Street will be Jan. 13 and she’ll start at the city on Jan. 23, where her annual salary will be $72,000.

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