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Originally published in Castine Patriot, September 6, 2012
Maine Maritime Academy officials say growth under control

by Sharon Bray

Impact of a growing Maine Maritime Academy student body on the town was the main topic of discussion Wednesday morning, August 22, when municipal and academy officials held their monthly “town-gown” meeting.

Selectman David Unger asked if the current enrollment exceeds MMA’s stated goal of 800 to 850 students.

As the academy begins a strategic planning process, Vice President Jeff Loustaunau said, “We are tweaking down a little bit, taking control” of enrollment numbers.

“We don’t want to be precipitous,” stated MMA President Bill Brennan. “We accept more than will be here.” The academy does not know exactly how many students it will have enrolled until after registration, he added, but the number will be closer to the planned target by the end of the semester.

Loustaunau said a number of registered students would be away for training on ships.

The academy, said Brennan, is “at a critical juncture” as a business. “We cannot increase revenue by increasing the number of students” at the Castine campus because of limited resources. He sees growth potential through “online delivery” and “satellite campuses.”

“We are not going to grow the population of Castine on this campus. We are going to grow as an institution,” Brennan stated.

Also at the meeting, Brennan introduced his new assistant Kate Grimes and research director Darrell Donahue.

Brennan invited selectmen and the public to convocation at noon Wednesday, September 5, and the barbecue to follow in the field house.

“Please inform incoming students about the need to conserve water … keep showers short and don’t leave faucets running,” Town manager Dale Abernethy said to MMA officials.

Paul Mercer reported that researchers working on the off-shore wind turbine project hope to install a “scaled down version” during the winter months. He said it should look similar to one that was in place last year near the harbor buoy.

Brennan said the plan is to see how the generator works connected to the power grid and to monitor noise.

Commenting on an agenda item listed by the town office, Brennan said he did not think the academy should be directly involved in planned zoning ordinance changes. He did note that proposals to regulate the number of people who could live in a private house could have “possible unintended consequences.”

“I hear concerns about the number of our students who live off-campus,” Brennan noted, adding, “these are private citizens engaged in a private marketplace.”

While the academy is not responsible for controlling the number of students in any one house, Brennan said MMA security does respond to complaints about large parties.

The next town-gown meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m., September 19, at the academy. Meetings will be at MMA while construction is under way at Emerson Hall. However, Brennan asked selectmen to chair every other meeting starting in September.