2017-07-07 / Community

Kennebunk seeks economic development director

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

Kennebunk is in need of a new economic development director following the resignation of the first person to hold that title, Mathew Eddy, who left “effective immediately,” on June 22.

In his resignation letter, which he offered “with great reluctance,” Eddy wrote, “I have very much enjoyed my time here and am proud of a lot of the work that we did. As I mentioned, the ride has become too much for me. Had we moved down here, this probably would not be happening.”

Eddy lives in Brunswick and has commuted daily to Kennebunk since becoming the town’s first economic development director in June 2012.

“At that time, [former town manager] Barry [Tibbetts] was comfortable with Mat continuing to work in other communities as a consultant, as Mat was only obligated to Kennebunk for 30 hours weekly,” Town Manager Mike Pardue wrote in a June 29 email, responding to a Post enquiry.

“Over the years, the long travel round trip travel between Brunswick and Kennebunk has become arduous for Mat, particularly in the winter months,” Pardue wrote. “For a bit, Mat considered moving to the Kennebunk area, but that plan fell through. Thus, he and I have, for several months, discussed his desire to grow his consulting business in the regions closer to his home. Mat tendered his resignation effective immediately as he has been presented another opportunity that requires his immediate availability.

“I am understanding of his need to move quickly and feel that because he and I had engaged in earlier discussions on his personal plan, his resignation timing is acceptable,” Pardue wrote. “Know too that Mat will be assisting in the transition of his in-process work as he is committed to a smooth transition for all parties.”

Attempts to reach Eddy were unsuccessful.

Pardue said Chris Osterrieder, town engineer and developer of community development, will manage “some of the on-going initiatives Mat was involved with.” Meanwhile, he has “had a meeting” with an as-yet-unnamed consultant to discuss availability “to aid in bridging this gap,” until Eddy’s office is filled.

“I envision the consultant managing the communication flow on projects such as the Lower Village master plan and skatepark,” Pardue said. “I am confident, for an interim period, that this approach will allow projects to advance on scope, schedule and budget.”

Funds for the consultant, “if such a temporary engagement is confirmed,” will come from wages already allocated for Eddy, who was paid partly out of TIF [Tax Increment Financing] district fund pools, Pardue said.

In a June 28 interview, Pardue he does not have a concrete timetable for replacing Eddy, but will work “expeditiously” with key town hall staffers to develop a candidate profile and hiring plan.

During his tenure in Kennebunk, Eddy oversaw allocation of hundreds of thousands of community development block grant (CDBG) dollars to dozens of area businesses, was instrumental in the redevelopment of Main Street and the revitalization of several buildings and businesses there, and most recently succeeded in filling the former Garden Street Market grocery building, replacing the downtown anchor business that folded in 2010 with a soon-to-open bowling alley and pub.

“His fingerprints are all over this town in a variety of different places,” selectboard chairman Dick Morin said at the group’s June 27 meeting, at which Eddy’s resignation was formally noted and accepted.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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