Six coastal towns, including Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, have agreed to fund a staffer to work on issues related to climate change. Dan King photo

With six towns opting in, the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission has announced creation of a new position to address coastal resiliency

Funded by Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Kittery, Ogunquit, Wells and York, the individual chosen will be tasked with studying and developing solutions for individual municipalities and regions, helping communities prepare for rising sea levels, coastal resiliency and related issues.

“We want to understand our carbon footprint, tackle energy projects, and develop responses to issues like water quality, recycling, and infrastructure challenges,” said Kennebunkport Town Manager Laurie Smith in a statement. “Many towns have volunteer energy and climate committees but towns are short-staffed. By pooling our resources, we can hire a new person who can oversee data collection so we can benchmark our efforts, understand our energy consumption, work together to address sea level and other concerns for coastal towns, and determine priorities for the next 5-10 years.”

The Kennebunk Select Board last month voted to participate; contributing $7,500 to the program, with an eye to commit $15,000 in the next fiscal year, and a further $7,500 the following year. Each of the communities is contributing the same amount – and are on board.

The position is for two years.

“This is a great ‘bottom-up’ community approach to dealing with these challenges,” said SMPDC Executive Director Paul Schumacher. “This effort is in line with what Gov. Janet Mills discussed in her address to the United Nations. She has made tackling climate change a key priority of her administration, saying  ‘Maine won’t wait. Will you?’  These six local towns are not going to wait.”

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