Wednesday, November 27, 2019

New Interim Town Manger believes Windham has encouraging future ahead

Barry Tibbetts
By Lorraine Glowczak

It was officially announced on Thursday, November 21 by the Windham Town Council that Mr. Barry A. Tibbetts will be filling in as the Interim Town Manager beginning Dec. 19th.  The contract with Mr. Tibbetts will be on the agenda of the December 10th Council meeting for approval with the intention that his role as Interim Manager will end in March 2020.

As stated in the press release, Tibbetts has 25 years of municipal experience, previously leading   His broad experience in local government, administrative operations, budgeting, regulatory functions, and community relations will serve the Windham Council in moving forward with the leadership of the town. Tibbetts is not new to the Windham area as he and his family have enjoyed spending many summer vacations on Little Sebago and Sebago Lake for many years.
Kennebunk in multiple progressive capacities through mid-2017.

His wife of 35 years, Joanne (Irace) Tibbetts, was previously a first and second grade teacher at Field-Allen and John Andrew Schools (now known as Windham Middle School) so, as a result, serving the Windham Council and community “is a unique opportunity,” Tibbetts said in the press release. Tibbetts took time this past Saturday morning, November 23rd to meet at a coffee shop in Westbrook with The Windham Eagle newspaper. His down-to-earth and approachable demeanor
created a relaxed and positive interview where much was learned about his excitement to assist Windham to move in an encouraging and decisive way.

Tibbetts stated that he looks to the Council for direction and plans to listen and learn from the them as well as from town staff and community members about the goals, desires and  opportunities for Windham.

“I believe it is important to listen first, then work with the Council and staff (team) finding consensus, planning and the appropriate support mechanisms to move forward,” Tibbetts said. “From what I have heard and read, Windham has tremendous potential and the Council is looking to move the community forward.”
As the Town Manager of Kennebunk, he is known and appreciated for developing and reinventing the
downtown area. He, along with elected officials and the community, collaborated to increase the
town’s economic development, producing over 700 jobs during his tenure.

Windham also has a vision to increase business and job opportunities. From his own experience, Tibbetts sees potential growth happening in Windham, in its own way.

Tibbetts knows a thing or two about town and economic growth. For example, there is the well-publicized ice-skating rink that it now known at the Waterhouse Center in Kennebunk that turned the downtown village into a small-town gathering mecca.

“We knew the downtown area of Kennebunk was oversaturated with gas stations and wanted to provide something more to help improve the downtown area,” Tibbetts said. to the Kennebunk website, the story goes like this: “In 2010, the town [of Kennebunk] was redeveloping the downtown and had the opportunity to purchase one of four gas stations on Main
Street downtown Kennebunk. The Town voted to purchase the former Mobil Gas Station at 51 Main Street for $280,000. The Town was awarded a Brownfield Grant to clean the site and sought options for commercial development.

In the meantime, the Town filled the space with the Farmers’ Market, Artisans’ Night Market, festival events, winter ice skating, and community events, while seeking a developer for the property.

A citizen-initiated petition to keep the property for Town use, won by a 3 to 1 margin.

The Town was fortunate to have a local resident, Geraldine Waterhouse and her granddaughter, Paige Hill, offer to preserve the ice skating and other activities for the community with a $1.5 million dollar endowment. The community responded by raising over $630,000 to construct a 100’ x 120’ open sided, four season pavilion for youth and family events, festivals and activities. The pavilion also includes a 60’x90’ winter ice skating rink.

 At a meeting in the spring of 2014, the Board of Selectmen voted to name the pavilion “The Waterhouse Center."
Tibbetts explained that the endowment program provides annual operating support to the facility for a number of year-round activities. The combination of this central location and ongoing program
support will ensure that its mission ‘to support the betterment of children’ is fulfilled.
Tibbetts views the same potential in Windham, and he pointed out the many prospective development options.

“There is good residential growth which fosters business growth, diverse age population with a young family component, high traffic volumes of tourism as well as a very good school system in the Town of Windham,” Tibbetts explained. “I am very impressed with the many work/materials concerning Windham such as the 21st Century plan, the Comp Plan and much more. No vision succeeds without a blueprint in mind and Windham seems to have detailed plans to create a future that will affect everyone in a concise and encouraging way – for both individuals and businesses alike.”

Tibbetts stated that before he offers advice based upon his own experience, he wants to hear what the Town of Windham has to say about their version of success. “Having a proactive plan, good leadership, and a bit of luck all work towards a successful end.,” he began. “Every town and village center have some central synergies while at the same time each area is uniquely different and embracing those attributes is essential towards being successful. Town Council Chair, Jarrod Maxfield commented on behalf of the Council in the official press release that they are pleased to have Barry’s experience in continuing to move the community
forward in the coming months. “His broad experience in local government, administrative operations, budgeting, regulatory functions, and community relations will serve the Council in moving forward with the leadership of Windham,” is stated in the press release.
Maxfield added in a phone interview that the Council was impressed by Tibbetts past successes.

“What is impressive is his ability to work with the community and elected officials of Kennebunk to create a very active and progressive downtown that most New England families would admire,” stated Maxfield. “We look forward to his advice and guidance during his tenure as Interim Town Manager.”
Tibbetts stated that working in government is a unique opportunity to serve the public, provide essential quality services, and potentially enhance the quality of life for the residents. After retiring from his post in Kennebunk, travelling with his family and serving in other arenas, Tibbetts is looking  
forward to getting back into the municipality workforce.

“After 25 years of service in town government, I needed to shake up/change my outlook,” Tibbetts explained upon his retirement as Kennebunk Town Manger. “I have always enjoyed challenges and moving the “ball” forward.  So, I decided to venture into the energy startup world (that company is now in the process of being acquired), I also worked with several other businesses in the energy industry while consulting in the governmental field. Government work has many great characteristics/attributes as I mentioned and can be a-lot of fun. I am once again exploring that unique opportunity. “

Prior to accepting the interim position here in Windham and after his retirement as Kennebunk Town Manager, Tibbetts has traveled with his wife, worked with a small energy start up, and developed a consulting business in energy and governmental services. Tibbetts received his undergraduate degree from USM, credentialed certifications from the ICMA and MCTMA, then obtaining his MBA later in his career.

Don Gerrish, who has been Interim Town Manager for over a year, will continue assisting the Council in the search process for the permanent replacement during the first quarter of 2020.  Mr. Gerrish’s last day, handing over the role of Interim Town Manager to Tibbetts will be Wednesday December 18th.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.