MRRA Ranked Top Base Redeveloper by Department of Defense
BRUNSWICK LANDING — The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority is a leader among communities impacted by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) according to the June 2013 Association of Defense Communities “State of Base Redevelopment Report.”
The Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment project leader Bryant Monroe cites MRRA for its economic development efforts and its leadership by example.
“MRRA’s efforts have made real progress and are at the forefront of communities dealing with adverse and significant BRAC closures and realignments,” Monroe said. “MRRA’s economic development efforts and progress in wrestling with a wide variety of former Navy base issues represent best practices among the 25 major BRAC sites.”
The report outlines some of the challenges MRRA and the other redevelopment authorities face, such as lack of property maintenance, deteriorating infrastructure, delays in environmental cleanup and lack of adequate federal financial resources needed to sustain building systems and provide the necessary caretaker support for properties awaiting reuse. These cumulative issues pose significant financial burdens on those entities charged with redeveloping these bases.
According to the report, another obstacle MRRA faces is that it solely funds the cost of maintaining all the electric, water and sewer distribution systems, roads, sidewalks, street lights, storm drains and public areas on the base.
Despite these obstacles, MRRA is one of the top job producers among the 2005 BRAC communities with now over 225 positions created so far with more to come. MRRA figures it will have created 600 new jobs by 2014, just from its current company mix. Redevelopment activities in Brunswick and Topsham, the two host communities for the former Naval Air Station Brunswick, has contributed more than $800,000 in property tax revenue to those two towns. Nearly $25 million in contracts have been paid out since the base closed.
“This round of base closures is particularly tough for a lot of reasons,” Monroe said. “This is taking everyone a lot longer, across the board. For Brunswick to have gone from ground zero–starting with a clean slate of empty buildings and now having (27) tenants at the base–there is no one close to them in that 2005 BRAC portfolio.”
MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque, who serves as chairman of the ADC’s Local Redevelopment Authority Directors Council, has helped raise many of the challenges base redevelopers face to the Dept. of Defense and to other federal agencies.
“What we’ve faced here in Maine is not unusual,” Levesque said. “Through a lot of hard work and cooperation from the Navy, the state and the affected communities, we’ve been fortunate to have attracted the world-class businesses we have here. We’re pleased with our progress, but we know there’s a very long ways to go before we reach our goals and can call this redevelopment a success.”