The city of Bath has hired a former Topsham planner to take on a new role as director of sustainability and environment with a focus on climate change. 


Rod Melanson said he plans to “integrate sustainable practices into municipal operations, infrastructure, services and policies.” 

He previously worked in the Topsham Planning Office, where he focused on natural resource planning. His educational background is in forestry, recreation and park management, and community planning. 

“An immediate step for me will be completing a vulnerability assessment that will become part of the climate action plan” to help identify the areas of most concern in Bath, he said. 

Melanson also mentioned the importance of energy reduction and may install LED streetlights and explore solar power options in the city. 

“The community engagement, the passion and the leadership are all very promising,” Melanson said of Bath. “It’s incredibly supportive and incredibly proactive.” 


Bath established a Climate Action Commission in 2019 to seek out the best tactics in addressing climate issues, but the commission didn’t officially get its start until 2021 due to the pandemic. 

The commission is tasked to “promote practices to reduce the effects of climate change through legislation, preparation and education,” said John Zittel, co-chairperson of the commission. 

“We want climate change to be a consideration in all city discussions somehow,” said Paul Perkins, the other commission co-chairperson.

Community engagement initiatives will be held with Bath residents in the coming months to gauge the response to climate issues and potential actions. Talking with residents will be a priority for Melanson in his new role as well. 

“There’s so much information out there that it’s hard for people to figure out what kinds of things they can really do,” Zittel said. “It seems that people are hungry for information.” 

The statewide Community Resilience Plan created by the governor’s office was a big motivator for Bath to expand its climate initiatives. The program provides grants to municipal governments to help them transition to clean energy and make their communities more resilient to the effects of climate change. 

“We need to help the city and community play our role in things like reducing emissions,” Zittel said. “A certain amount of global warming is going to happen, and we are going to feel some impacts, and one of the biggest impacts we expect to see in Bath is from sea-level rise. … It’s going to be such a visible impact on Bath’s waterfront.” 

“I’m excited to have Rod join the City,” City Manager Marc Meyers said in a press release. “He comes to Bath with a wealth of experience in municipal planning, environmental initiatives and conservation. He’s a great fit to carry forward the City’s work on climate action.”

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