"Moving from Contemplation to Implementation"
Are you a city or town councilor wrestling with too many demands and not enough revenue? A city/town manager struggling to meet today AND tomorrow's needs without breaking the bank? A public works/wastewater/planning director trying to meet regulatory requirements as well as renew aging infrastructure within tight fiscal constraints? An environmental/conservation/economic development advocate concerned about your community's ability to balance environmental protection with commercial and/or residential growth?
If you answered YES to any of the above questions AND are facing the need to address stormwater/runoff/flooding/drainage and/or water quality issues you will want to review the following materials and contact the New England Environmental Center to find out what services may be helpful in meeting your challenges!
The staff of the NEEFC have significant experience in working with communities to identify sustainable financing plans for environmental infrastructure and operations AND developing the community support necessary to actually implement these strategies. Communities that employ effective outreach and communication programs as well as appropriately engaging elected officials have a much clearer path to success than those that either rush the process or assume that the necessary support will somehow materialize.
Click here for Publications, Tools & Resources By Topic related to the Stormwater Financing and Outreach Unit.
Process matters! Good process is very often the difference between lasting success and gridlock when it comes to actually implementing environmental policies and programs. There are no shortcuts to developing a solid base of community support that will enable local elected officials to enact policies, programs, and budgets that will meet BOTH today's needs as well as future needs. Clearly defining both the problem AND the solution as well as developing realistic cost estimates and time lines are critical first steps on the road to lasting success. Engaging the political leaders at the right time with the right approach will give them the confidence they need in order to fully explore all financing options before selecting the one that best fits local conditions. Early engagement with both supporters and likely opponents of the various options being considered is absolutely essential in developing the final reccomendations to the council. A robust communications plan must be written AND implemented during both the contemplative phase as well as on an ongoing basis once a plan has been approved.
As you can see from the lessons learned chart some key points emerge. Allowing enough time and recruiting the right mix of participants have to be near the top of the list. Homeowners, commercial property developers and managers, environmentalists, not-for-profit property owners, and elected officials are the right mix of perspectives and experience to develop a plan that is both complex enough to meet the variety of needs facing the community and simple enough to be understood, accepted, and implemented by the residents and businesses that it will impact.
Every community is unique. That may seem obvious but it is often forgotten when developing strategies for community engagement. Cookie cutter solutions more often result in frustrated participants than the desired consensus for significant public policies. The Portland, Maine timeline of stormwater actions is presented only as a reference showing how long a successful process may take. When someone asks how long will it take in their community to develop a consensus position on stormwater financing there is only one correct answer - it will take as long as it takes! Deadlines play an important role in keeping the process moving forward but should be viewed as guideposts, not inflexible positions set in granite.
Portland's Stormwater Journey
This article recounts the basic narrative and summarizes the process by which Portland, Maine implemented a stormwater fee. Beginning in 2011, the process took the better part of six years and required tremendous commitment, passion, and patience from the citizens who saw it all the way through. By discussing the strategies, difficulties, missteps, and eventual successes with the people who were intimately involved throughout, the authors developed useful working knowledge of how a local government might move from contemplation to implementation of a sustainable stormwater financing program.
Contibutors and Interviewees
(* denotes Task Force member)
- Cathy Ramsdell* - Executive Director, Friends of Casco Bay
- Nancy Gallinaro - Water Resources Manager, Public Works Department
- Chris Hall - Greater Portland Council of Governments
- Brendan O'Connell - Finance Director, City of Portland
- James Bennett - Biddeford City Manager
- Barry Sheff - Senior Project Manager, Woodard and Curran
- Tyler Kidder* - GrowSmart Maine
- Sean Mahoney - Conservation Law Foundtion
- Jill Duson - Portland City Council
- Vincent Veroneau* - President and CEO, J.B. Brown and Sons
- Fred Dillon* - South Portland Stormwater Coordinator
- Danielle West-Chuhta - Portland Corporation Counsel
- Michelle Brooks* - Citizen at Large
- Nick Mavadones - Finance Committee Chair, Portland City Council
- Ayden Eickoff - Student, Environmental Studies, Bates College
- Eric Moberg - Student, Masters of Business Administration, University of Southern Maine
- Meredith Sells - Student, Masters of Policy, Planning, and Management, University of Southern Maine