Notes from the Easton Board of Selectmen’s Meeting of Jan. 21, 2021
After standard actions approving the minutes of the Jan. 7 board meeting and approving two tax refunds as recommended by the tax collector, the board discussed two issues that have come up during public comment.
First, one individual on two or three occasions has included anti-Semitic references and dog whistles in her commentary. Selectman Bob Lessler suggested that any member of the board who feels that a public speaker has crossed a line of decency should be empowered to interrupt the speaker and call out the offensive comment. If there is a repeat, then any member of the board should be empowered to direct the administrative assistant managing the Zoom meeting to mute the offending speaker. The board agreed that hate speech or bigoted commentary should be blocked but, generally speaking, the bar should be set very high for authorizing a call out or muting of a speaker.
Three-Minute Time Limit
Second, First Selectman Dave Bindelglass noted that we have been lax in enforcing the three-minute time limit for speaking. He will pay closer attention to this issue while not adopting a rigid approach to its enforcement.
Watershed Property Exemption
June Logie spoke to the board both during the beginning and the ending public comment period. She asked the board to support legislation pending in Hartford that would exempt watershed property from the affordable housing mandate set out in Connecticut General Statutes Section 8-30g. Later, she requested that Lessler forward to the working group on a land use ordinance the research other materials he has prepared on this topic.
The board re-appointed Jean Stetz-Puchalski and Lori Cochran-Dougall to the Agriculture Commission for terms running from Jan, 2, 2021 to Jan. 2, 2024. Bindelglass notified the board that he has appointed David Logie as an alternate on the Conservation Commission. The Conservation Commission is unusual in that, by state statute, appointments are made by the first selectman and not by the full board.
Covid-19 Incidence and Vaccine Update
Bindelglass reported that Covid -9 numbers are slightly better than those reported at the last board meeting. Randy Shapiro and the Senior Center are doing very good work helping people sign up for vaccines. Hospitals could open for vaccines as early as next week. People 65 and over will be eligible for vaccines very soon. The schools seem to be doing very well in their fully open learning environment.
South Park Bridges
The town will enter into a voluntary mediation dispute resolution process regarding the South Park Avenue bridge work for the now completed bridge. The process for bidding to repair the second South Park Avenue bridge should begin soon.
Paine Open Space
The Department of Public Works has done a great deal of work to clear fallen trees from the Paine Open Space property. The Park and Recreation Department will perform additional trail clearing work at Paine as well. A somewhat formal plan to maintain the property going forward has been worked out with these departments.