The COVID numbers are 34.2 per 100,000 for the week ending April 23, with less cases reported in Easton this week than last. This new strain seems to be pretty contagious, but not effecting people in a major way. Our plan remains unchanged for now.
The referendum is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3 at Samuel Staples from 6:00am-8:00pm. Please be informed and give thought to how you will be voting and discuss with friends and neighbors. It seems the most difficult question is the approval of the sale of 18.7 acres of land at 18-22 South Park Avenue to the Aspetuck Land Trust for $470,000. As many of you know, the town bought this property for $6.15 million dollars in 2008. I will not reiterate what I have already written in op-ed pieces in the Courier, please look at those for additional information.
- In 2021, a land use ordinance was passed which guarantees that public land cannot be sold or leased without a town vote, so nothing can happen on that property unless you the people of Easton vote to do so. Please read the ordinance on the town website at https://www.eastonct.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif3071/f/uploads/land_use_ordinance_9.21.2021_final.pdf. Please consider the ordinance when you are told by someone that the town plans to develop the remaining acreage without the peoples’ say.
- Please note that we are nearing the end of a two-year process to complete the sale of this land which was made public in the Fall of 2020, with the support of the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Conservation Commission and the Board of Selectmen. If the town keeps the land, we could allocate more of your tax dollars to conservation and protection of the land and Mill River. However, we really do not have the expertise in either the Department of Public Works, or as was mentioned by the Chairman of the Parks and Recreation at the town meeting, Parks and Recreation cannot do the conservation ourselves and particularly not as well as the Land Trust.
- There has been conversation about combining this sale with a deed restriction or conservation easement on the remaining land. While there was talk in 2008 about deed restrictions and conservation easements back when the Selectmen could buy and sell land without town approval, this was never brought up again as the Selectmen considered multiple offers to sell the land over the years. The idea only resurfaced a few months ago as we got close to finalizing this sale. (Ask yourself, “Why?”). Again, the land use ordinance provides the ultimate protection for the remaining land. Of course, although I think it’s unnecessary, we could certainly place a conservation easement on the land that the land trust is purchasing now. I have no doubt that they would ever sell or repurpose this land and I doubt the state would allow them to anyway, but after the sale the town could certainly do that. This should allay any fears that the land that you are voting to sell on Tuesday would ever be developed.
- Lastly, the Aspetuck Land Trust and Citizens for Easton are both organizations which have never wanted anything other than to preserve and conserve land, and to do what is best for Easton. Trout Unlimited are stewards of rivers like the adjacent Mill River. If you want guidance, wouldn’t you want to listen to them instead of what you read in a leaflet which appears in your mailbox? The leaflet is purposely confusing and misleading, weaving together a litany of half-truths mostly unrelated to the question at hand regarding the sale and preservation of much of the South Park property. I will address the remainder of what is alleged in the leaflet from Citizens for Responsible Government in a Courier article in the coming weeks. For now, let me finish by saying please educate yourself from reliable sources and please vote.
The budget has a 1.02% increase overall. You may remember that last year the town approved a 3.6% increase by a wide margin, but this is a fair budget which allows us to maintain a high level of services and good value to the town and school district.
The demolition delay ordinance is a step towards preserving the history of Easton which we all share. If someone plans to demolish a structure which may have historical significance, they need to complete a demolition application. Upon receipt and acceptance of an application for demolition by the Building Department, a 90-day waiting period begins. The committee which will be established by the ordinance, will confirm the historical significance of the structure and consider ways to preserve all or part of the destruction. After completion of this process, if the owner still wants to move ahead with the demolition work there is nothing to stop them. After discussion at the annual town meeting, this seems non-controversial.
At the Board of Selectmen meeting on May 5, there will be a discussion about the continuance of the ban of 5G networks in Easton. We have taken a wait and see attitude as a town and have forbid the construction of 5G infrastructure in town for 6-month intervals thus far. My hope is by giving notice, those with opinions or supporting material will make it available prior to the meeting so that we can discuss extending the ban. Please forward any statement or material you would like considered to my assistant Ginger Fiore at email@example.com and plan to attend the Board of Selectmen meeting on May 5 at 7:30 at Town Hall or via Zoom.
As a reminder, the National Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Easton Public Library.
The Easton Energy and Environment Task Force is hosting an electric vehicle car show at the Easton Public Library on Saturday, April 30 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The event provides an opportunity for Eastonites to learn what electric vehicles are all about.
Mark your calendars to join us for Garden Mart on May 7 from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Easton Firehouse Green.
Alan Goldbecker resigned this week from the Pension and Employee Benefits Commission. Not only has Alan served for many years, but he has handled all of the investment decisions to get us to a point where we are in the enviable position of having a pension that is actually overfunded at the moment. This achievement is as remarkable as it is unusual and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
Have a wonderful weekend,