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FREEPORT — Ed Bradley, a former town councilor who was instrumental in the creation of the Freeport Community Center, was named the 2013 Citizen of the Year in front of a packed room of family and friends at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.
Bradley moved to Freeport in 1976. Before retiring, he worked as a maritime attorney and businessman. He served on the council in the mid-1980s, and one of his daughters, Sarah Tracy, is a current councilor. Most recently, he has served on the town’s Natural Gas Task Force.
“Nothing I could have received would mean more to me than this,” said Bradley, who dedicated the award to his wife, Jane. “There’s no place where I have felt more full, more possible, more satisfied than here.”
The Citizen of the Year is selected annually from a group of nominees by the town’s special events committee.
Also Tuesday, a study presented to the council said applying pulverized shell hash to mud flats may raise pH levels and help mitigate ocean acidification, creating a more hospitable growing environment for shellfish.
Darcie Couture, a scientist with Resource Access International, presented the results of a shellfish habitat resource planning study conducted last summer and fall. The $40,000 study, half of which was paid for by the town, sought to examine cost-effective ways of bolstering the local clam population, which has been decimated in recent years by the invasive European green crab.
The study, which overlapped with studies conducted around the same time by University of Maine at Machias professor Brian Beal, used traps and fences to deter crabs. The overall effectiveness of trapping remains inconclusive, Couture said, because it’s unknown the size of the dent they put in the population.
Stormy weather and high tidal cycles in September severely damaged the fencing apparatuses. In the future, paid, local staff – as opposed to remote and volunteer staff – should be used to manage intertidal resource projects, Couture said.
Couture also suggested fostering settlements of hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) to supplement the loss of soft-shell clam (Mya arenaria) harvesting opportunities. Mercenaria is “a species with a better shot” against green crabs than the Mya, which is more often clammed locally, Couture said.
Councilor Rich DeGrandpre asked whether the crabs would simply adapt to eating more hard-shelled clams.
“They’ll be coming ashore and eating the kids at Winslow Park if they’re the only protein source available,” he said.
In other business, the council unanimously appropriated $12,000 (provided by a donation from the Freeport Housing Trust) to establish the Freeport Emergency Rental Assistance Fund, which will provide temporary relief for low-income home renters who experience financial hardships.
“This program will fill an unmet need for very deserving people,” said Johanna Hanselman, the town’s general assistance administrator.
The council also voted unanimously to amend its public peddler’s ordinance to help ensure that unused licenses are made available year-round to qualifying street vendors.
Freeport Citizen of the Year Ed Bradley, right, with Town Councilors Andy Wellen, Sarah Tracy, Jim Hendricks, Rich DeGrandpre, and Kristina Egan on Tuesday, March 18.