Norwich development leader to step down after 32 years

Norwich - Kent Baker, a Norwich Community Development Corp. board member for the past 32 years and president for the past four years, will retire from the board with the installation of new officers in December.

Baker has reached his 10-year term limit, serving that long since the board enacted the term limit provision in the bylaws.

Baker also announced Thursday that he is retiring from his 36-year Norwich law practice and will close his office at 120 Broadway at the end of the year.

"We've come a long way from when we were building from dirt in the industrial park to now, when our activities have expanded to cover the entire city," Baker said. "Times have changed. That's why we need new people, fresh faces on the board. It's been quite a ride."

Along with Baker, board treasurer Tony Joyce and board member Tom Collins - whose business is leaving Norwich for Bozrah - will resign from the board at the annual meeting Dec. 6.

The NCDC board Thursday accepted three new nominees to fill the board spots. Joining the board will be Stacie Lambert, chief financial officer at American Ambulance and current chairman of the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce board; Robert Buckley, vice president of commercial lending at Dime Bank; and Norwich City Council President Pro Tempore Francois "Pete" Desaulniers.

NCDC serves as the economic development agency for the city and receives $150,000 per year in funding from the city and from Norwich Public Utilities.

New bylaws approved unanimously by the NCDC board Thursday contained minor changes to operations. Instead of board president, Baker's successor will be called chairman of the all-volunteer board. And board members will have three-year terms.

The bylaws also call for the Norwich mayor, city manager and not more than two current members of the City Council to serve on the board. Currently, only Mayor Peter Nystrom and City Manager Alan Bergren serve on the board, with no representation from the City Council until Desaulniers takes his seat.

Robert Mills, chief executive officer of the NCDC, will now be called the agency president.

c.bessette@theday.com

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