2017-03-24 / Community

Planner leaving Scarborough for SoPo company

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

Dan Bacon is stepping down as town planner after a decade to take a private sector job with Gorrill Palmer Consulting Engineer. Bacon’s last day in Scarborough is Friday, April 7. (Courtesy photo) Dan Bacon is stepping down as town planner after a decade to take a private sector job with Gorrill Palmer Consulting Engineer. Bacon’s last day in Scarborough is Friday, April 7. (Courtesy photo) SCARBOROUGH – Scarborough’s Planning Department will be in a period of transition this spring. Town Planner Dan Bacon resigned from his post after 13 years with the department to take a planning position in the private sector.

“It’s been a pleasure to work in Scarborough and I am really going to miss it,” said Bacon, who in in late April will begin leading the planning land use division of Gorrill Palmer Consulting Engineers, a new undertaking created to expand the firm’s services. “From working with citizens to all the different committees I staff to the planning board, long range planning committee to town council to department heads, Scarborough’s got a great culture and working environment. I am really thankful to have worked here so long and I am going to miss it.”

Bacon came to Scarborough in 2004 as the assistant town planner, a position he held until 2007 when he took over the top post from Joseph Ziepniewski. He previously worked as the assistant town planner in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Bacon was the first assistant planner in Scarborough and was drawn to the position at that time because it met his skill set and was in a place where he and his wife, both New England natives, wanted to settle.

“At the time, the town was growing really rapidly, more so that it is today. The town needed two planners, plus a town engineer to keep up with the development review, but also to do long term planning,” he said.

It is his work with long term planning, particularly the Comprehensive Plan, that Bacon is most proud of. The Comprehen- sive Plan is a document that sets a series of guidelines reflecting how officials, and residents, would like to see the town grow and makes recommendationS on changes to how things like land use, facilities, natural resources, transportation and housing are managed.

“When I started, the town was starting a Comprehensive Plan update process much like we are now. What I see as my biggest achievement is really taking that plan adopted in 2006 and working hard to implement it in its entirety. The town was in a place then where it needed zoning overhauls. With the help of my staff, the long range planning committee and town council, we systematically updated the zoning of the community to catch up with the expectations of residents and in a way for the town to grow,” Bacon said.

Bacon said he has also enjoyed working with the Public Works Department and town engineer to plan, and implement, various transportation projects and other projects such as the Eastern Trail extension to make the town more accommodating for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Town Manager Tom Hall said Bacon’s resignation created a void that will be felt beyond the planning department.

“It’s a huge loss to my staff and to the town. I think you have seen him as a tremendous resource,” Hall said to councilors after announcing Bacon’s depature at the March 16 meeting. In a press release announcing Bacon’s plans, Hall said Bacon, who “passion and vision for planning and community engagement is unparalleled” has been “a critical part of my senior management team.”

Public Works Director Mike Shaw is among those department heads who worked closely with Bacon in planning projects on behalf of the town.

“We’ve got a good working relationship and good back and forth between the code enforcement and planning department and public works. A large part of that is due to Dan,” he said this week. “From my perspective I certainly wish Dan well. He is going to be successful no matter where he is because that is the type of guy here is.”

Shaw said Bacon has been critical to improving the zoning in town, including the redefining of zoning and design standards at Higgins Beach and has been an enthusiastic driver behind expansion of the Eastern Trail into South Portland.

“He’s had a great vision for the town that has really helped it moved forward,” Shaw said.

Allen Paul, a longtime chairman of the planning board and a member of the town’s long range planning committee, agrees that Scarborough is in a better place because of Bacon’s planning work.

“When someone with his qualities is found, it is no surprise that advancement opportunities present themselves. Dan will be sorely missed but will have left the town of Scarborough worlds ahead of where he found it,” Paul said in a statement. “His fingerprints will be seen all over town for years to come. It’s been a pleasure working with him.”

Bacon said he has enjoyed working with Senior Planner Jay Chace, Town Engineer Angela Blanchette and Zoning Administrator Bryan Longstaff and the other employees in the Planning/Code Enforcement Department.

“I feel we are in a good place right now. I think they are a staff that is capable of continuing the positive trajectory of the department. I am leaving it in good hands,” Bacon said.

Bacon said he would have enjoyed continuing to work in Scarborough, but the opportunity to shift to planning with Gorrill Palmer, located at Sable Oaks in South Portland, was too intriguing to pass up.

The position will include transportation planning, urban design work and both municipal and private consulting work.

“I am excited about the opportunity to grow the firm,” Bacon said.

Bacon’s resignation comes with mixed emotions for Councilor Chris Caiazzo, who was glad to see Bacon would be staying locally – Gorrill Palmer is located in South Portland – and would still be a familiar face around Scarborough because Gorrill Palmer does a lot of work in town.

“I hate to see him go. You always wish people the best and the thing that is best for them and this sounds like it is a great opportunity for him,” he said. “He definitely deserves it.”

Councilor Will Rowan said replacing Bacon is “going to be really hard.”

Hall said Bacon will help the town on a transition plan and although his last day in town is Friday, April 7 and he officially starts his new position Monday, April 25, Bacon has agreed to stay on retainer through May and June as needed.

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