Keep the Ball Rolling in 2021

For the MAP Board, that has been the goal this year, keep the ball rolling.  Although we have all been very eager since spring emerged to see things get “back to normal” after last year, our energy levels and mental capacity will still take time to recover.  I’ve promised the Board we’ll continue to try to keep a modest schedule, focus on getting through the basic business, and by necessity put non-essential activities and initiatives on the back burner for now.  Sometimes this is hard, as there are always great ideas and discussions that can get our minds turning.

MAP continues to work with NNECAPA, NH and VT on many aspects of the 2020 reorganization.  Although all our organizations officially merged at the start of 2020, we have not quite worked out all the bugs yet.  Several MAP Board members have been participating in NNECAPA meetings over the past year to help sort out committee/board structure, administrative support management, membership, budgets, communications, professional development, and more.  Progress has been great, and it’s been a pleasure to work with our cohorts in NH and VT.

New Board Members

We are very glad to have two new board members join us over the spring!  I’d like to thank Christine Grimando, Portland Planning & Urban Development Department Director, and Shelley Norton, Planner at Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, for joining the MAP Board.  It really is a team effort to keep MAP going, and the board works well together to get stuff done.  We do have a few more openings on the Board - inquiries and interest is welcome at any time.

And with our Zoom meetings this past year, it’s been great to have a few MAP members join us for Board meetings!  We’ll continue to try to improve our communication to members about upcoming meetings for those who want to join us, even just to listen in.

NNECAPA Executive Committee Activity

As a Section of NNECAPA, MAP continues to work with the NNECAPA Executive Committee (EC) and the other two state Sections (NH and VT) to keep all our organizations going strong.  Besides monthly check ins, the EC has had a 2-day retreat each spring for several years now, and these have been absolutely essential to help our four organizations work together efficiently.  I’m telling you, it’s been great to work with all the fantastic folks on the EC!

A few of the issues that the EC has been working on this spring include reviewing the contract for our administrator (those emails you get from Events Your Way!) and refining what administrative support is most needed by NNECAPA and the states; evaluating our communications platforms (Constant Contact, APA website, listservs, etc.); dealing with membership through APA; how to structure sponsorships for both NNECAPA and the states; AICP changes and resources for AICP exams; and the grant-funded membership drive for NNECAPA and the Sections.

I have been serving as the Maine Section Representative on the EC for a few years now, a role which has been both to represent MAP on the EC and to help plan the NNECAPA Conference each year (along with NH and VT Reps).  This role will probably shift in the next year or so, separating out the conference planning aspect.

A moment to recognize a few MAP folks who have been serving on the EC and will be finishing up this yearCarol Eyerman has been serving as the EC Vice President, and Carl Eppich has been serving as the NNECAPA Professional Development Officer (PDO), and they will both be stepping down at the end of this year.  Jarod Woolston and Jared Farn-Guillette have each been doing their part on the EC as the Maine Legislative Representative (MAP LPC Chair) over the past year or so, though after this year the EC will not likely require the state LPC reps to be on the EC, so they’re off the hook.

Jeff Levine recently joined the EC as the NNECAPA Public Information Officer - it’s been great to have his help on getting the new NNECAPA listserv set up, ramping up NNECAPA social media, and keeping Yankee Planner going!


MAP and NNECAPA membership continues to be an area that NNECAPA and the state Sections work to improve.  The transition to having membership go through APA has been, well, a bit rocky over the past year.  Despite the fact that overall, membership is up (yay!), we know that the process for new membership and membership renewal is not as easy a process since the reorganization.  Part of it is because APA was not set up to easily accommodate Chapter membership without APA membership.  Our EC President, Sarah Marchant, put in a lot of hours to work through membership issues with APA!  

We encourage anyone with questions on their membership or renewal to reach out to us, we are happy to help sort things out!  Contact Jim Fisher or Lynne Seeley (see the website), no need to go through APA - though you certainly can if you want to.

The Ill-Fated “SPO Bill”

It’s been a VERY busy legislative session, as you can read in the LPC report on the 130th Legislative Session.  The LPC has certainly been doing well to keep up with following bills and providing testimony.  One bill in particular was pulled out of the line up so to speak, so that we could focus on it in the event it got any traction.  That was of course LD 446, An Act toRe-Establish the State Planning Office.  From the outset, it was recognized that this bill as written was not exactly what everyone wanted, a result of being “thrown in” at the last minute and without a lot of outreach and preparation before the start of the legislative session.  It was also recognized that the budget implications would be a major obstacle.

After the public hearing and a good amount of supporting testimony, the Joint Committee on State and Local Government tabled the work session until a couple weeks ago.  By that time, the bill’s sponsor reworked the bill as a “Resolve, Establishing a Commission To Research and Recommend Solutions For State, Regional and Local Planning,” based on all that was heard during and since the hearing.  Unfortunately, despite a decent show of support, the Committee voted ought not to pass, notably along party lines and with 4 members not in attendance.

Although this bill went nowhere as more or less expected, it was nice to have an opportunity to engage in the “what if” discussions with other planners and supporters.  As we all continue our recovery from 2020, there may be further opportunities to engage in discussions with MAP members on how to make progress with strengthening planning at the regional and state levels - it seems that a lot of folks are eager to talk more about this.

It’s also notable that while this bill was floundering, the Governor put out the proposed budget which included funding three new planning positions in the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future.  Two of these new positions are supposed to be for Resilience Planning in support of the Maine Climate Action Plan (“Maine Won’t Wait”), and one position would be a Planner to focus on Housing, as that’s been the hot topic all around lately.

NNECAPA Conference

This year’s conference is in Burlington, Vermont,  October 13 – 15, 2021 at the Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain – It will be live!  Be sure to watch your email for information and/or check out the NNECAPA website.

Next year, 2022, it’s our turn to host.  A few members of the MAP Board have begun working with NNECAPA representatives and admin support staff to get the ball rolling, selecting a location and venue as soon as possible.  We’d love to start getting a conference planning committee together, and will need at least a handful of MAP members to participate on that.  Hopefully we’ll be able to pin down the location and dates for 2022 by this year’s conference, and then start to look into programming later this year.

There will be a call for committee members on the listserv sometime this summer, but if you want to be in on the location and venue discussion, let us know right away!

Outlook for the Rest of 2021

This year we weren’t able to hold a spring conference, but instead opted to go for a couple of outdoor mobile workshops - although Bangor had to be postponed till the fall (September 10), hopefully, some of you were able to join us in Portland!  In the meantime, the MAP Board will likely continue to have a “light” schedule for the rest of the year.  We’re hopeful that in-person meetings and events will officially make a comeback perhaps in the latter part of the year, but we’ll continue to stay nimble and try to maintain remote and virtual options when possible.  The Board will be confirming the official dates, but in general, the MAP meetings and events for the rest of the year are:

  • One summer Board meeting (TBD), more regular Board schedule through the fall as we approach Annual Meeting time (check website for updates on meetings)
  • NNECAPA Conference  Burlington,VT, October 13th-15th - this one is IN PERSON!
  • MAP Annual Business Meeting, November

So happy summer everyone, and hope to see you around sometime this year!

Written by:

Amanda Bunker

Amanda is a planning consultant and current President of the Maine Association of Planners.