Letter: Let the People Set the Path

To the Editor:

As the First Selectman of the town of Easton I had planned to explain my position regarding an advisory ballot question on funding Easton’s portion of the development of a multi-use path along Sport Hill Road. I still plan to do that in the future.  However, I feel obligated to respond to the letter to the editor regarding the Board of Selectmen’s action at our March 4 meeting. There are several inaccuracies which I do not want to let linger prior to my more detailed discussion.

The authors of the letter, June Logie and Sherry Harris of Citizens for Responsible Government, state that — during the Planning and Zoning Commission members’ March 4 presentation in support of the pathway — that “no mention was made of the town wide charette informing citizens about this project.”  This is an error as Ross Ogden of the commission extensively quoted statements made at the design charette.

Far more importantly, they state that “the legal authority to govern town finances rests with the BOF.”  Of course the legislative body of the town of Easton is the Town Meeting. It is that body which approves budgets and appropriations as recommended to them by the Board of Finance. In this case  on the question of an appropriation for the multi-use path, the Board of Finance voted 3-3 which prevented the question of the appropriation from being put to the Town Meeting.

Given the Planning and Zoning Commission’s unanimous position that this was needed by the town, why not put this question to the town as a whole? Is allowing them to do so and safeguarding the rights of the people to be heard not exactly what the Board of Selectmen should be doing? For those concerned that the Town Meeting is somehow usurping the Board of Finance’s power, the vote would be advisory only.

The authors present this as a partisan issue suggesting that only the Democratic members of the Board of Selectman voted to put this advisory question on the ballot, while in fact the vote was unanimous. Furthermore, it is worth noting that one of the Republican members of the Board of Finance who supported putting the appropriation on the ballot did so saying that she believed the people should vote on this important question.

Since running for this office I have tried to remain transparent. I have said all along that where the town faced difficult and potentially controversial issues the people of the town should decide what is best. The authors give every appearance of arguing that the people of Easton, through the Town Meeting process, are not qualified to make the financial decisions expressly granted to them by town ordinance and state statute. For a number of reasons their argument is difficult to comprehend.

First Selectman David Bindelglass

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