Freeport council 'accepts' physical fitness initiative

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FREEPORT — After facing issues over terminology at the Planning Board last month, the Freeport Active Living Plan was accepted Tuesday by the Town Council.

The council, and members of the public, went back and forth on whether to “accept” or “receive” the document, which promotes physical fitness and was recommended by the Planning Board.

Councilor Andy Wellen said he wanted councilors to receive the plan, because accepting it would imply an endorsement. Councilor Sarah Tracy expressed a similar concern, asking if accepting the plan could come with legal implications. A lawyer at the meeting told the council that as long as it was clear the council isn’t committing to the plan, it could be accepted.

Anne-Marie Davee, chairwoman of the Active Living Task Force, asked the council to accept the plan. Davee said the plan has been amended to address public concerns.

“We hope it’ll be a living and active document,” Davee said.

The motion to accept the plan passed 5-1, with Wellen opposed.

In other business, members of the Freeport Withdrawal Committee met with the council in a workshop Tuesday to discuss the progress of the Regional School Unit 5 withdrawal.

Withdrawal committee member Peter Murray said the group has met 30 times since January, including three with the RSU 5 Working Group that represents Durham and Pownal. A mediator was present at those workshops, although Murray said this didn’t do much to help resolve differences.

“Those three meetings were not productive,” Murray said. “Ultimately we didn’t reach an agreement.” 

The two groups have reached tentative agreements on 10 issues, but still have not agreed on what to do with funds remaining at the end of the next school year. They have agreed that the withdrawal would take effect July 1, 2015.

The next step for the withdrawal committee is a meeting July 30 with the RSU 5 board to talk about meeting the deadline for a public vote on withdrawal in November. If that meeting is unsuccessful, the committee plans to ask the state Department of Education for a six-month extension to continue negotiations.

Murray said the withdrawal committee is prepared to hire an attorney, but knows that would be expensive.

The council plans to hold another workshop with the withdrawal committee on Aug. 5.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.