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Gleeson elected to Freeport Town Council

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Gleeson elected to Freeport Town Council

FREEPORT — David Gleeson Jr. will be the new town councilor for District 1 after receiving 34 of 36 votes in a special election Tuesday.

Gleeson was the only candidate on the ballot. Daniel J. Collins received two votes as a write-in candidate.

Gleeson replaces former Councilor Sara Gideon, who resigned in October after she moved out of the district. Gideon was elected to the state House of Representatives on Nov. 6.

Gleeson, who owns North Atlantic Insurance Associates in Windham, joins two other freshman councilors, Andrew Wellen and Melanie Sachs. He previously worked with the council as chairman of the Coastal Waters Commission.

Under special election rules, Gleeson's term expires next year.

In their meeting on Tuesday night, meanwhile, councilors approved a $20,000 local grant match to hire scientists to gather baseline data on the town's clam flats, which have seen a dramatic decline in the last two decades.

The $20,000 Shore and Harbor Planning grant is from the Maine Coastal Program of the Department of Conservation, formally the State Planning Office. The grant is part of an effort by the town to eradicate invasive species and reseed traditional shell-fishing grounds in the Harraseeket River.

In May, the town approved a $100,000 capital request from the Shellfish Conservation Commission. The match for the grant came out of that account, which will have a balance of about $69,000 after the money is spent.

The grant comes about two weeks after the town pulled it's first batch of green crab traps out of the water, yielding a 55-gallon drum full of the crabs from about a dozen, unbaited traps. Clammers are concerned the crabs, which prey upon clams and oysters, may decimate their industry.

Town Manager Peter Joseph said the trapping and the grant will help determine which avenues the town wants to persue to address the issue of dwindling clam flats.

"We can spend $100,000 on anecdotes," he said at the meeting, referring to the council's discussion on whether trapping alone can solve the problem. "If we can put a value on it ... then we can start moving forward."

The council Tuesday also moved on two smaller, unrelated grants.

The first is for a Project Canopy grant from the U.S. Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry program. The total project cost is more than $15,000, with the town's share about $7,800 in cash and in-kind contributions.

With the grant, workers will remove invasive species and dead mature trees from Leon Gorman Park and plant new trees and shrubs.  The majority of the work will be done on the steep hill adjacent to the Bow Street Market parking lot. 

The grant is intended to stop erosion and secure the embankment, which will also help remove contaminants from storm water.

The other grant will be used to remove and replace dilapidated stairs at Sandy Beach. The project is intended to create safer access to the water.

This grant is a Small Harbor Improvement grant from the Maine Department of Transportation and has a total project cost estimate of about $41,700. The local share of this project is almost $5,000 in cash and nearly $3,900 in labor and materials from the Public Works Department.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.