Planner Profile: Anne Krieg
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Meet Anne Krieg, Executive Director of Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission:
HOW MANY YEARS IN PLANNING PROFESSION?
Executive Director of Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND
I started out in 1986, about 2 weeks after graduating from SUNY ESF at Syracuse University, as a drafts-person in a small LA firm in Belmont, Massachusetts. One of my projects was drafting all the details for the Orange Line stops on the MBTA. The partners in the firm had "fathered many firms" in Boston. Sometimes at lunchtime, they would call their former employees and tell them what they did wrong on their most recently constructed projects. One of the partners could often be seen painting on the railroad tracks of scenes of Belmont. That was a very entertaining time for sure.
One day, I came into work and they said next week I would start working at one of their "children's" firms because they were retiring. So off I went, and I got to do more site planning and permitting work, then, in a similar style, when the recession hit Boston, I reported to a campus planning firm, Dober Lidsky Craig, until they folded for a few years in 1991. I took the year off to have my first child and then re grouped to a new direction, and started working in Danvers, Massachusetts for almost 7 years and then the town of Reading for 3 years. I met many planner friends there with whom I remain close.
We moved to Bar Harbor in 2002. I remember writing to MAP Board members at the time, when I was considering taking the Bar Harbor job, to get their advice and Jim Upham said, give it a go and Maureen O'Meara said, no stay where you are! Ha, I still laugh about that! I worked in Bar Harbor for 9 years, working with Beth Della Valle, Hugh Coxe, Judy Colby-George, and Jane LaFluer on our Plan of the Year in 2007, Comprehensive Plan. It was an exhaustive process but it was one of the highlights of my time there. I learned a lot from the team of consultants and I felt good about our product. I also helped connect the town with the cruise industry, commenced the design development process for the Route 3 improvements (now under construction, apologies if you have been stuck in that traffic) and weathered many political storms which both strengthened my resolve and ultimately really burned me out, causing me to question everything.
I was, however, lucky to bounce back to the profession with the town of Bridgton. I worked there for the last 5 years, and, though I know my best work is ahead of me, some of the projects I am most proud of to date are from Bridgton. I was a part of the ground-level re-birth of Bridgton by working at the community level to revitalize the downtown, work on form-based codes, and connect the under-served populations with their town.
When I saw the posting for the Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission, I was struck by the desire to do something I had not done before, working in regional planning, and in a private non-profit. I love working with different municipalities and on a variety of projects, so that part of the position is great!
WHAT LED YOU INTO PLANNING?
When I was still a math/science major, I watched my now 91-year-old Mom fight town hall on the sale of the neighborhood school. When the subdivision I grew up in outside of Syracuse was originally developed in the late 50's, the developer wisely set aside a significant piece of land for the school conveniently located, as he knew it would make the lots sell more quickly if a school was in walking distance (sound familiar?) and the town built a school there and my neighborhood filled in with lots of families. The town was going to sell it because the student population had dropped. She argued to lease it for 10 years because the neighborhood will be turning over as they retire, move, or as she said die off, and new families would move in. Though she was adamant and stubborn in keeping with the process, she lost her battle and they did sell. Watching her do that made me re think my launch into science, as I realized I only was doing it because she was a scientist and so was my brother so I was just following the line.
I switched into Environmental Studies with a focus on planning, law, and economics. (Full disclosure, Physical Chemistry also had something to do with it...)
[As follow-up to this story, in 15 years I think it was, they were forced to float a bond to, guess what, build a massive addition to another school, so her prediction was right - my old neighborhood has transitioned to younger families and student population went up and, they had to be bused when they used to walk, for shame.]
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT PLANNING IN MAINE?
Coming from Massachusetts, I was surprised and pleased there was a State Planning Office. I am sad it is no longer part of the Governor's Office as it made the state progressive in seeing planning as an important component in state government. I think having a comprehensive plan statute is unique. Also unique is the vastness of Maine. Again, comparing it to Massachusetts, we as planners are all spread out in Maine so that was a huge culture shock. In Massachusetts, you trip over a planner or design professional on every street! Their planning association meets monthly for lunch and it's packed so you end up having close friendships with planners. That's why I have always felt MAP is very important to give planners a connection to each other as it was pretty isolating when I first came up here and being a part of MAP has helped.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF YOUR WORK?
I like the exhilaration of passing a plan or an ordinance at town meeting, as it's a great ratification that the project was done right.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF YOUR WORK?
I am easily distracted, so I have to work hard on keeping up with what is to others, routine tasks of paperwork, which is a struggle for me.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR DREAM PROJECT – WHAT KIND OF PLANNING WORK WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE MORE INVOLVED WITH?
The great thing about this new position is every project is a dream project. I am not hampered by day to day life of town hall life and I only work on projects (though I miss working with people in the town hall, so that is truly a mixed bag.)
WHAT IS YOUR NICHE OR MAIN EXPERTISE?
Getting to the baseline of what a community wants - I can facilitate a couple of meetings and understand where the town is heading, and where they want to be. I think it comes from years of working in this field and it helps me with preparing comp plans and the like.
This profile was originally published on June 19, 2017.