SEARSPORT — Fred Breslin returned to familiar waters Wednesday, starting his new job as Searsport town manager.
Breslin is a native of Northport and a graduate of Belfast High School. He retired from a career in the U.S. Navy in 1976, and went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Maine at Orono.
He served as Belfast city manager from 1978 until 1980, followed by six years as town manager in Wells.
Most recently, Breslin worked for 3 1/2 years as administrative assistant in Eliot.
“I’m very excited about coming home,” Breslin said. “I took a roundabout route, but I’m back and looking forward to catching up on things and working with the people of Searsport.”
The major issue to catch up on, he said, is the half-finished Sears Island cargo port project, twice endorsed by Maine voters in the early 1980s but idled since 1989 because of litigation initiated by the Sierra Club.
As Belfast city manager, Breslin served on the Maine Ports Council, a volunteer organization promoting the Sears Island project. “I’m a longtime supporter,” he said. “I was in on it from the inception. The main item on my agenda is to get caught up on where it stands. Then we’ll see if we can get it moving again.”
Breslin said there are tentative plans for Maine Department of Trasportation Commissioner Dana Connors and other DOT officials working on the project to come here next week for a meeting on the status of Sears Island.
The other big nut to crack, he said, is solid waste disposal and the town’s contract with Penobscot Energy Recovery Co..
Two years ago, PERC notified the town it could no longer honor a 30-year contract to accept trash for $12 per ton. Voters at the 1991 town meeting decided to sue PERC for breach of contract.
After a year of mediation, voters at this year’s town meeting, held last month, agreed to settle their lawsuit against PERC and to accept a 27-month trial contract with the Orrington incinerator.
With reams of PERC-related documents to pore over, Breslin said the 27 months “should be just about enough time to get brought up to date on this. Twenty-seven months will go by pretty fast on a difficult issue like this.”
Breslin replaced Donald Grant, who left Searsport early this year after nine years as town manager to become manager in Ogunquit. Town Comptroller Lee-Ann Trenholm has been serving as interim town manager.