Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission welcomed Elswyth Strassberger as new county planner the week of Aug. 26.
Originally from Baltimore, Strassberger has worked for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Ashville, North Carolina’s planning office and Baltimore, Maryland’s human services department, where she worked on bicycle and pedestrian issues. One of her biggest focuses over her career has been transportation, both in major cities and in rural areas.
Transportation is also one of the major topics she plans to tackle in Lincoln County. “We will look at safety improvements and multimodal improvements,” she said. This would address quality of life, sustainability, and disability access. “We have to look at what opportunities we have in transit service. That might include volunteer drivers, (and) improving physical activity safety so that people can walk and bike safely. By increasing physical activity, seniors might be able to walk to a potential transit stop rather than having to have a door-to-door transportation service.”
Strassberger said seniors aren’t the only population at risk. “If you have no way to get there other than driving, you’ll drive whether you have a license or not, whether the car you have is safe to drive or not, and that can put not only you but everyone else on the road in danger. We have to make it safer for people to get where they have to go in other ways.”
Another issue she expects to work on is affordable housing. “We need workforce housing, especially on the coast,” she said. “We also need to be looking for options for middle class housing for people who don’t need a three-bedroom house,” like seniors and single professionals, she said.
Food security, including access to quality food, and sustainability of the food supply, is another issue Strassberger envisions working on, as well as coastal issues such as emergency preparedness for sea level rise, especially for vital infrastructure such as sewage treatment plants. “I will be working on finding funding to mitigate problems we already know about. In the Midcoast, we are already on the front lines on this issue.”
Strassberger looked for work in Maine and Vermont after visiting Bar Harbor.