On Monday, Nov. 29, The Town of Bethel will hold a special town meeting at the Bethel High School Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. The meeting gives Bethel's legal voters the opportunity to vote the Road Renewal Plan, which would put it to a town-wide machine vote tentatively on Tuesday, Dec. 7.
The Road Renewal Plan was first proposed by the Board of Selectmen to the Board of Finance on June 1. The original plan proposed to bond $8.5 million over a ten year period to fix 31 of Bethel's 83 miles of road and three parking lots.
After the Board of Selectmen officially approved the plan, First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker presented several bonding scenarios to the Board of Finance at its September meeting, and after much discussion it was tabled till its October meeting. The vote on the plan was tabled yet again in October, mainly because only five of the seven board members were present.
On Nov. 9, the Board of Fiance voted 4-3 to send the plan back to the Board of Selectmen, with an advisory vote of 5-2 to reduce the bonding amount to $2 million. Several Board of Finance members cited the state of the economy as their main concern for the original $8.5 million plan.
On Nov. 16, The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to bond $2 million as "Phase I" of the Road Renewal Plan. Knickerbocker said he has a list of top priority roads to be fixed in this first phase. That following Thursday in a special meeting, the Board of Fiance approved the new plan that is now in the hands of the Bethel voters.
The delay in the road repair proposal has angered many residents in Bethel who accused members of the Finance Board of being obstructionists and playing dirty politics.
Given the volatility over this issue, I'm sure tonight's meeting will be eventful.