BAR HARBOR, Maine — After serving as town manager for more than 27 years, Dana Reed has reached a separation agreement with the Town Council.
The agreement, effective May 8, was announced Tuesday night at the council’s regular meeting.
Reed declined Wednesday to make any additional comments about the separation agreement but provided a copy to the Bangor Daily News. The document shows that he is to be paid a total of $110,669 in the form of regular and deferred compensation and in contributions to his retirement health savings account. A letter to “whom it may concern” recommending Reed for employment and signed by Council Chairwoman Ruth Eveland also was provided to Reed as part of the agreement.
Attempts to contact Eveland on Wednesday about the agreement were unsuccessful.
Reed’s continued role as Bar Harbor’s town manager became a controversial issue in recent months as Reed put former police chief Nate Young on paid leave and then fired him. Reed placed Young on leave last October while an investigation was conducted into a Sept. 25 incident in the local village of Town Hill.
Young allegedly drove while drunk on Sept. 25 after officers in his department received a report of someone passed out at the wheel of a pickup truck in the parking lot of a local market. Young was accused of tersely dismissing officers who came to check on him and of using his position as chief to discourage the officers from taking action.
At a public hearing in February on Young’s firing, Reed told the council that Young “violated the public trust” last fall and behaved inappropriately during the subsequent investigation. The council voted to uphold Young’s termination.
However, negotiations this spring to renew Reed’s contract, which was not due to expire until the end of June 2015, came under scrutiny by residents who felt a change was needed. Some created a Facebook page called “Bar Harbor Citizens for Regime Change,” which since has been changed to “ Citizens for a Better Bar Harbor.”
Commenters on the Facebook page cited other factors such as a citizens’ 2010 lawsuit against the town over its land use ordinances and the town’s 2001 purchase of the local water company among reasons not to renew Reed’s contract.
“Transitions are sometimes smooth and sometimes rocky,” Eveland said at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Both Eveland and Reed, in reading separate statements during the meeting, acknowledged that Reed’s continued employment with the town has become a divisive issue in Bar Harbor. He began his job in November 1986.
Reed said that in the interest of shifting focus back upon normal issues, he has decided to step down as town manager effective Thursday, May 8. His continued presence as town manager, he said, would sustain the “dysfunctional, divisive and destructive attitude” that has spread through the town since Young was placed on leave last fall.
“My mere presence in the town office has become a distraction,” Reed said.
Council member Paul Paradis thanked Reed for his service to the town, as did other councilors at the meeting.
“Dana has served this community well over 27 years,” Paradis said. “I think he’s done a great job. I want to wish him well, and I hope he sticks around.”
Councilor Gary Friedman said that though he thinks Reed’s departure is in the best interests of the town, he does not see any winners in the situation.
The council voted 6-1, with Bob Garland in opposition, to approve the separation agreement. Garland said his vote against it was the only way he had to protest the way the whole situation came about.