OBSERVER CORPS REPORT 2023
The Falmouth Economic Development & Industrial Corporation (EDIC) is the Town of Falmouth’s primary agency responsible for creating and developing increased economic opportunities for both the present and the future.
Much of this year’s report repeats what has been said in previous years, so those routine checkpoints and ongoing efforts are relegated to the end of this one. Onward to the blood, thunder, and glory!
Thunder: some, much of it hidden in executive sessions surrounding the lease of the Station Grill. Executive session minutes remain unreleased past July 2020 pending completion of those lease discussions with Grill owners John and Marion Marcellino. Judging from public comment on the issue, one gathers that the members struggle with maintaining both the wish to support the Café’s continued operations, and the need to uphold the public’s trust in its fiscal responsibility in the face of mounting rent arrears and increasing maintenance costs. Despite compromise measures, the dilemma remains unresolved.
Glory (potential): Adjacent to the Falmouth Station property, EDIC owns an undeveloped parcel that would, in many ways, be an ideal location for work force housing. An engineering study was presented at a community meeting in January, 2022, and nearby neighbors expressed many doubts and anxieties about traffic and social consequences of proposed rental housing.
In early 2023, EDIC gladly accepted the offer from Jill Neubauer, architect and neighbor, to hold a workshop and information session in late March on designing the housing to accommodate as many and varied concerns as possible. Neubauer was joined by David Quinn of the Housing Assistance Corporation, and Bob Mascali, the Falmouth representative to the Cape Cod Commission. Neubauer emphasized again and again the importance of setting priorities and holding to them throughout the thousands upon thousands of decisions, large and small, that will be necessary as such a project proceeds. Subsequently, the members agreed that the project is very important, but a big lift, requiring real commitment and stamina for the work over several years. With that in mind, Executive Director Lingafelter was authorized to proceed with exploring and engaging official and voluntary channels for support, communication, expertise, funding, and community involvement.
More glory: the website has been substantially updated and expanded.
Between the vastly improved website and the minutes posted there, thorough information is available to the public about ongoing projects: Main Street Gigabit service, the landfill solar array, Technology Park, Marine Renewal Energy Collaborative, Falmouth Station renovation, and Raymond Park; and the completed projects: 704 Main Street, a high speed internet study, and Community Development Block Grants. The website’s featured project descriptions include information on how to use or be included in their benefits.
Necessary Glory: The administrative staff, Wayne Lingafelter and Lynne Broderick, provide detailed financial data to the Treasurer, Kevin Holmes, and their teamwork keeps a sizable budget, including forecasting, under successful control. Lingafelter is unfailingly on top of potential funding opportunities and grant applications, and Broderick supplies analytical bookkeeping, including evaluations of prospective vendors. The staff appears to be responsive to the members, and well informed about legal and regulatory boundaries. They prepare a packet for members before each meeting, and members appear to be well prepared, which allows routine business to proceed in a rapid, orderly fashion. Your observer does not request such packets in advance of meetings, though she may do so in future.
Demands on staff time must be budgeted carefully, and some assignments absorb disproportionate amounts of attention as needs surge and subside. The Station property requires continuous attention to keep it in good repair, make any necessary structural improvements, attend to its historic significance, and maintain lease relationships with the DOT, Peter Pan, and Plymouth & Brockton bus services. Over several years now, EDIC ownership of a buildable parcel in the Tech Park has required far more time than anticipated to complete all the necessary steps preparing to offer it for sale.
EDIC membership continues to turn over, with further changes directly ahead. Longstanding members set a high and conscientious standard for engagement with EDIC’s efforts and overall goals. If the newer members can meet that standard, Falmouth will continue to be very well served by the organization. EDIC’s interests are necessarily interlocking with many elements of the community, and the members take seriously the need to consider the whole as they lay groundwork for smaller parts.
EDIC’s mission is: To attract, advocate and support economic vitality and seek to constantly improve the business climate in Falmouth. It is important to remember that EDIC is, technically, a public non-profit corporation and not a town committee. In some respects it functions as a committee, though with aspects of an agency or department.
Carol B. Chittenden, League Observer Corps, June, 2023