In November 2021, the Harpswell Board of Selectmen established a Comprehensive Plan Task Force to update the town’s comprehensive plan and articulate a vision and action plan for the community’s next decade or more.

Since December 2021, the 11-member task force has met once a month. During that time, much has been accomplished. The task force has established a website to post its agendas, minutes and background information; exposed members to a host of relevant studies and briefings on topics such as groundwater, climate change and sea level rise, commercial fishing, residential building patterns, and real estate trends; developed a preliminary list of issues the town will likely have to address in the next 10-15 years; and secured funds for consultant support.

May 27 marked the beginning of a new phase of task force activity, as the town issued a request for proposals from consultants who could support the task force’s efforts. Responses are expected by June 23.

A review group comprised of four task force members will evaluate the proposals and make a recommendation to the entire task force for its approval. The task force will then forward its recommendation to the select board for its endorsement, hopefully by the end of July.

Once a consultant is selected, what has largely been an internally focused effort will transition to a broader, community-wide effort. A plan will be put in place to collect and evaluate input from the community at large, to capture what residents believe the town should preserve and what challenges must be addressed to guide future policies and solutions. Paper and electronic surveys, as well as group meetings with residents, will likely be used to engage the community in this effort.

The task force will continue to meet on the third Thursday of the month at 2:30 p.m. at the Town Office. Public participation is welcome.