Presque Isle hopes to hire economic development chief this summer

4 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Presque Isle City Council received an update during their meeting on Wednesday, June 5, on efforts to create an official economic development office and related job positions.

Since passing economic development as one of their formal goals for 2019 the council has sought to create a new position of director of economic and community development to replace Ken Arndt, the city’s director of planning and development, who has retired. Currently Lewis Cousins, city assessor, is serving as the interim director of planning and development.

Councilors Kevin Freeman and Randy Smith serve on a special committee formed to address economic development in the city. Freeman detailed the committee’s proposed positions for a new Municipal Economic Development Department.

Aside from the new director of economic and community development, the committee proposes three additional positions: a building supervisor, building inspector and an administrative assistant.

Freeman suggested that code enforcement officer George Howe assume the position of building inspector and Penny Anderson, current administrative assistant for planning and development, take on that same position in the new department.

“The only new position we would add is the building supervisor,” Freeman said.

Although the council took no action regarding the proposed positions, Freeman passed out copies of a full department proposal for later review. He said the committee, which also includes members of the Presque Isle Industrial Council, hopes to hire an economic and community development director by late July or early August.

Some of the new director’s tasks will include meeting with representatives of businesses who are interested in locating to the city, working towards downtown and industrial park revitalization, managing city events and maintaining contact with local and state agencies such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Maine departments of labor, transportation and environmental protection and local business owners.

“Thank you for the hard work that you and the committee have done so far,” said council chairman Mike Chasse. “I think there’ll be a lot of room for the department to work with the Industrial Council and make sure there’s no overlap with what they do.”

In other business, Freeman gave an update on a project to establish a sanctioned ATV route from Presque Isle to Mapleton, on behalf of the Star City ATV Club. Currently, to arrive in Mapleton, ATV riders must travel from Parsons Road in Presque Isle to Washburn and then take a connecting trail to Mapleton.

The Hanson Lake Area Local Access Trail already provides ATV trail access to Mapleton residents on or near Smith Road, Bagley Road, Hanson Lake Road and Dennett Hill Road, and both the Star City and Mapleton ATV clubs have named that route a sanctioned club trail.

Councilors did not take any action regarding the Hanson Lake trail, as the ATV clubs still have to complete maintenance work before gaining approval by the City Council and Industrial Council.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Presque Isle City Council will take place Wednesday, July 10, at City Hall.