Wiscasset’s outgoing town manager says the town made significant progress toward important goals during her 4 1/2-year tenure, including the cleanup of Mason Station and the negotiation of an easement necessary to protect the town’s airport.
Marian Anderson’s last day with the town will be Thursday, Jan. 31. John O’Connell will start work as interim town manager Monday, Feb. 4. Anderson will start work as town manager of Houlton, in Aroostook County, Feb. 18.
Despite a busy schedule as she prepares for the upcoming transition, Anderson discussed the successes and challenges of her time in Wiscasset during an interview in her office Monday, Jan. 28.
The Wiscasset Board of Selectmen hired Anderson in August 2014. The selectmen were Chair Pam Dunning, Bill Barnes, Tim Merry, Ben Rines, and Jeff Slack. Only Rines remains on the board.
Soon after Anderson arrived, the Maine Department of Transportation’s downtown project moved to the forefront of town issues. Voters first selected one of three options for the project in June 2016, but project-related issues would keep the issue in the news for much of the next two years. The project is now under construction.
Anderson cited the negotiation of an easement with Chewonki Campground as a major accomplishment during her tenure. The easement will allow the town to remove trees on campground land that obstruct airspace at the Wiscasset Municipal Airport.
The acquisition of the easement will secure continued funding for the airport from the Federal Aviation Administration. The town and the campground have an agreement in place and Anderson expects a closing soon.
The selectmen outlined their goals during Anderson’s first selectmen’s meeting, Aug. 18, 2014. According to the minutes of the meeting, one goal was to work with the owners of the campground to find a win-win solution to the issue.
The manager of the airport, Rick Tetrev, praised Anderson as “a wise person with great leadership skills” in his last monthly report before her departure.
“I want to extend to her my very best wishes in her new position in Houlton,” Tetrev said in the report. “I also want to thank her for her support for the airport as well as her encouragement and support for me. I am sorry to see her leave.”
Other accomplishments include the town’s successful pursuit of a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up two ash ponds near Mason Station. The town has acquired polluted properties near the former power plant for nonpayment of taxes.
The town has had other successes, less dramatic but still important.
Town officials had discussed the need for a generator for the town office since 2006. In 2015, a generator was acquired from federal surplus and installed at the town office. A generator for a building at the town’s wastewater treatment plant was also acquired from federal surplus. Anderson credited the Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency for assisting the town with the purchases.
She said the installation of a digital sign in front of the municipal building that announces town meetings and events was another positive development.
Before coming to Wiscasset, Anderson had been Richmond’s town manager since 2009. She is a certified assessor, code enforcement officer, and plumbing inspector.
In Wiscasset, when the town did not have a code enforcement officer or plumbing inspector due to illness or a resignation, she filled those roles too.
Wiscasset Planning Board Chair Ray Soule said Anderson inspected two septic fields at his property last fall. Soule said she was always available and willing to help in any way she could. After voters eliminated the position of town planner, she assisted the planning board. “I am going to miss her,” he said.
In an effort to smooth the transition, Anderson is preparing a list of items for the interim town manager to be aware of. There were 31 items on the list as of Monday, Jan. 28, with time to add more.
The list includes the development of the 2019-2020 budget; ongoing negotiations for the Maine Yankee impact agreement, which will expire in September 2022 (negotiations began in September 2018); the negotiation of three union contracts; White’s Island bridge access; and development of a policy to govern the town’s handling of tax-acquired properties.
Wiscasset Board of Selectmen Chair Judy Colby said, “It has been my pleasure to work with Marian for the past three years and I wish her all the best in her new job as the town manager of Houlton.”
Anderson, who lives in Boothbay Harbor, plans to move to Houlton. She and her husband, Frank, have made an offer on a house there.
“Every town has its challenges, and if I have helped in Wiscasset with some of their challenges, I am pleased to have done so,” Anderson said.
“I have truly enjoyed my time in Wiscasset,” she said. “There are a lot of wonderful people here who have a strong, passionate interest in the success of Wiscasset, and I am pleased to have been a part of it.”