August has already been a busy month for Rockport’s incoming Town Manager Bill Post, who sat down with this reporter to discuss his past experiences in public government throughout the state, factors which drew him to Rockport, and his stance on town projects, including the library and possible development of the former Rockport Elementary School site.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time learning and meeting with department heads and staff,” he said. “It takes a few months to get to know all of a town’s policies and procedures, the budget and the town charter while doing day-to-day work,” said Post.
He has worked in local government for 24 years; his first job in the field was as town manager in Bradley at age 24. Since then, he has been town manager in Waldoboro, Damariscotta and most recently eight years in Bowdionham.
He earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Maine at Orono, and said it was his interest in communities and their citizens that sparked his interest in state government.
“Having worked in local government for 24 years, you have to love what you’re doing,” he said. “What appealed to me is you’re trying to do good things for the residents. [Local government] is interesting, fulfilling and it’s something that is going to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Post, who currently resides and has spent most of his life in Waldoboro.
While serving on the Maine Municipal Association (MMA)’s Legislative Policy Committee alongside Rockport’s previous town manager, Rick Bates, Post said Bates shared with him glowing opinions about Rockport, a factor which motivated Post to apply for the position Bates would later vacate.
“[Bates] told everybody what a great community Rockport was to work for and be part of. Even if you don’t live in the town, knowing the area and having lived close by, I was excited for the chance to work here,” said Post.
Bates is currently employed under a $30,000 contract by the Town of Rockport to help oversee the construction of the new Rockport Public Library.
“The library project is major, and will be a good project in the end,” said Post. “ I’ve also been reviewing job descriptions of town employees and [Rockport’s] emergency medical service contract with North East Mobile Health Service. We need to decide by January of 2020 whether or not we will renew it.”
Post said that it has been challenging meeting with NEMHS and the managers of the other three towns that receive EMS service from the company, including Camden, Hope and Lincolnville.
Post said the proposed renovation and expansion of the West Rockport Fire Department should be addressed within “the next year or so.”
Another municipal project that was garnering discussion prior to Post’s arrival in Rockport is the proposal by a group of local officials and town employees to develop the site of the former Rockport Elementary School at the intersection of routes 1 and 90, to include residential and commercial buildings.
The Rockport Select Board voted earlier this month to approve a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) submitted by the aforementioned group, that includes board members Doug Cole and Debra Hall. The document will be sent out to potential developers or other interested parties.
“This needs to be a public process, and we will need to hear plenty of feedback from residents and business owners,” said Post. “This will be a major project. It is up to the town what they want to see there.”
He cited transparency and effective communication as two key tenets of a successfully functioning town government.
“My goal is to be a good leader and [provide] good communication,” he said. “Communication within an organization needs to be strong. I want to develop a different means of communication than was here before – how can we get more information out to the public? I also love the idea of a newsletter, which we could send out to residents as cost effectively as possible. Communication is key, and the staff here are excellent. I want to make sure that we have excellent staff that continue to serve the public well.”
Post spoke highly of the numerous volunteers who serve on town committees, and who: “are doing things and taking pressure off of town government. I will be trying to get to as many of these committees and groups in the coming months to lend support.”
He has also been busy reviewing the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which was last updated in 2004. Post said that updating the document is key as it guides development in Rockport and could be revised to attract additional businesses. He also urges residents to seek him out with any questions or to visit his office and introduce themselves.
“My door is always open and people can call, email me or just stop in,” he said. “I want to know as many residents as I can, and am interested in what their thoughts are and what they want to see happen in Rockport.”