Following more than a year without an opportunity for Easton residents to debate and evaluate upcoming proposals of significance, 35 residents and more than a dozen town officials convened at Samuel Staples Elementary School on March 23 to consider five upcoming ballot questions. Other residents watched the meeting virtually from home and could send their comments to be read aloud. You can watch the video and read the ballot questions here.
Two of the five proposed appropriations received considerable discussion and debate. As a result of retirements by previous health department personnel serving Easton last year and without the option of bringing the matter to a Town Meeting or referendum, the Board of Selectmen made the decision to join the Westport Weston Health District on a one-year trial basis. The intention was to defer the decision to join on a longterm basis until a Town Meeting and referendum were allowed.
Governor Ned Lamont’s executive orders to prevent the spread of Covid prohibited Town Meetings and referendums last spring. But things have opened up since that time, allowing for the Special Town Meeting with modifications in accordance with health and safely requirements.
Mark Cooper, Westport Weston Health District director, explained many aspects of the proposal. The presentation met with conflicting comments about how Easton might be affected going forward as part of a multi-town system. Now it will be up to Easton voters to decide. You can read more about the health district here.
The most energetic debate came from taxpayers about the proposed multi-use pathway on Sport Hill Road. Justin Giorlando, town land use director, reviewed the proposal. You can also read “What is the Proposed Pathway on Sport Hill Road?” here, in addition to watching the video on YouTube, Channel 79 or Vimeo. The plan was conceived as a safety measure for Helen Keller Middle School students. The viability of this primarily state-funded grant was explored from multiple perspectives including associated costs, traffic, alternatives to the pathway and advantages to local families and seniors as well as HKMS students.
The pathway vote is advisory only and therefore will not determine the outcome; the Board of Finance has already voted 3-3 to deny the appropriation, as explained by Andy Kachele, chairman. The referendum will provide an indication of residents’ preferences. Whether this would lead to a reversal of the board’s decision remains to be seen.
The referendum will take place on Tuesday, March30, at Samuel Staples Elementary School from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The two major proposals will have an impact on Easton’s healthcare, safety and quality of life.
Absentee ballots are available. Read how to obtain an absentee ballot here.
Now it’s up to residents to go to the polls and vote!