Bethel Board of Selectmen and Town Attorney Lawlor Have Failed Memory About Hunting Regulations on Town Public Property, But Also Claim They Allowed Hunting for Years, So Which Is It? Decision Tabled to Aug. 4th

Report by Paula Antolini, August 4, 2020, 3:00PM EDT

Sign in Franc Preserve, Bethel, CT where hunting
was NOT allowed on this town property in the past.

Consideration of Deer Hunting application”Is on the agenda of tonight’s Bethel Board of Selectman meeting, to take place via Zoom App at 7:00PM EDT August 4, 2020 (if the storm does not knock out power):

Video/ Teleconference video link:
Materials can be viewed at:


“Consideration of Deer Hunting” was item number 9 on the agenda for the July 21, 2020 Board of Selectman (BOS) meeting, 2 weeks ago, in which the BOS received a letter asking for approval of a request that hunting be allowed on town property.

The problem is, each year the Bethel Board of Selectmen and the Town Attorney Martin Lawlor seem to have “amnesia” and cannot remember exactly what hunting they allowed, in which locations, even though they’ve been handling deer hunting approvals for years. This year was no exception, like many other years where their memory failed them, and the topic was tabled until the next meeting, which is August 4th, this evening via online meeting (if the Tropical Storm Isaias does not product electrical outages).

On July 15, 2020, a letter was submitted to Matthew Knickerbocker, with an attached proposal, by Frank Germinaro, (view letter below) asking for approval of a “Bethel Controlled Deer Hunt” for 2020 (January 2021 Archery Only). Germinaro states he will act as “coordinator” as defined in the proposal, if the proposal is accepted by the BOS.

First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker presented the letter and proposal to the other two Board of Selectmen members, Selectman Rich Straiton and Selectman Paul Szatkowski, in the last 8 minutes of a 1-hour meeting, then asked Mr. Lawlor to weigh on on this.” (View video of July 21st BOS meeting below, beginning at mark 52:36.)

Basically the conversation was similar to the conversation every year at this time, where the board claims to “not remember” in which locations they have allowed hunting in the past, and then they table the discussion to the next meeting.


Here is how the July 21, 2020 meeting conversation went about the hunting topic, beginning with First Selectman Knickerbocker having to ASK the town attorney if they approve hunting. He’s only been doing this for YEARS!:

Knickerbocker asked Lawlor, “Bethel has approved a controlled, a very limited controlled hunt for bow hunting for many years, is that correct?

Attorney Lawlor responded, “Believe it or not I went back and looked in the file, we’ve approved guns as well.”

Knickerbocker replied, “Oh really.”

Attorney Lawlor responded, Every year that I’ve been Town Council, and this is before even this administration, there’s been an approval for a deer hunt. Different scenarios,the last couple of years, the scenario has been that they [hunters] give us a waiver, they hold the town harmless, and then what happens at that point in time, we would be covered by, the town would be covered by our insurance carrier if something went wrong, but the hunters will not. And that’s in the waiver itself, it says in there that they’re going to indemnify and hold the town harmless, and that they also understand that they have no coverage by the town as well. And that’s what we’ve done for the last 4 or 5 years. If you remember about, I’d say 7, 8, maybe 10 years ago, they had an organization that actually got insurance, but they couldn’t get that anymore, if I remember right.”

NOTE: So the town attorney has a very good memory about insurance, but no memory of where they allowed hunters to hunt each year for the past ten years.

Knickerbocker said, “Right. And so this proposal, this request is for bow hunting only, they’re not asking for firearms?”

Lawlor replied, “Yeah I don’t, I haven’t seen this, so.”

Knickerbocker stated, “Now, in the motion do we need to list the properties where they are allowed to hunt?

Lawlor replied, “Yeah I think it would be a good idea.”

Lawlor said, In the past, there was a time too where we, I forget what the name of the club was in Bethel, they also asked for, like, bird hunting up around the reservoirs, you know, so.”

Selectman Straiton said, “That would be the Fish and Game Club.”

Lawlor said, “Fish and Game Club, right.”

Lawlor replied, I think you were talking about, we’ve talked about, we’ve always talked about, places where, uh, there’s not really gatherings of people.”

NOTE: So they think it is safe to hunt where “there’s not REALLY gatherings of people? So they don’t really know if people are in the woods at the same time as hunters?

Lawlor continued, “You know, like one of the reasons the Franc Property was not considered a place to hunt was because of the fact that there’s walking trails down there, there’s campsites down there, so that wasn’t a good idea. But I think we’ve, I think on the past we might have done Sympaug, you know, basically it’s a swamp, um, Terre Haute, and I know on some occasions, but I don’t know if you want to continue to do that, the reservoirs as well. In and around the reservoirs.”

NOTE: The above statement by Mr. Lawlor is incorrect. In 2013 Mr. Lawlor clearly stated,“Matt, hunting is never allowed on town property,” when discussion about the Franc Property was taking place, I was at that meeting. Also when questioned, Knickerbocker said Terre haute was “town property,” so why would they allow hunting there if hunting is not allowed on town property?

Knickerbocker replied, Well we can’t do reservoirs anymore because you need a State DTH permit to allow any type of recreation, so we’d have to exclude that.

Lawlor said, “Okay. Talking about Terre haute and Sympaug basically. Sympaug’s the land that’s around the Public Works Department.”

Knickerbocker said, “Yup.”

NOTE: Their memory is coming back.

Lawlor said, I can’t think of any other land off the top of my head.

Knickerbocker, I think that’s all that’s been done in the past.”“As a matter of fact, “Um, I’m not sure if we’ve ever allowed Sympaug, did you, could you clarify that?”

Lawlor answered, They never, I looked in the files, I mean, I’ve got stuff that goes back for years here, and there’s very few references in what town property has been done. I mean, if you want to give me a minute or two I can look a little more, to see if it’s in here [holding folder].

Straiton said, “Matt, When, does this have to be done right away?

Knickerbocker, “No, no.”

Straiton said, “I don’t see the date that they’re looking for.”

Knickerbocker replied, Yeah this doesn’t have to be done just yet, because it begins, they do the licenses in September I think, as I recall. “

“It’s around the first of September, the same day as the Scotty Fund Picnic, Matt, they meet in the morning,” said secretary Dionne Craig.

Knickerbocker said, “Alright. You guys want to table this for, until the next meeting and take a look at it then? It’d be the first week of August?”

Lawlor said, “I’ll go through the file, you know, because it goes back a lot of years. I’ll go through the file and see of there is any exact reference to lands that they [hunters] were allowed on before.

Knickerbocker, The only ones I remember from signing the, uh, signing the licenses last year was Terre Haute. I don’t think it mentioned anything else so I don’t want to expand it.”

Lawlor said, “Yeah, no, I understand. It’s a bit of [inaudible]. They keep changing it, so, they have, from what it was originally”

Knickerbocker, “Yeah.”

Straiton said, “Marty, we’re gonna have to look into that, Marty. We’re gonna have to look into that for the reservoir property because the fish and game [inaudible] is listed on that property. So this might be the time to make that decision. [inaudible].”

Lawlor stated, “Well there’s been problems with that in the past anyway. I recall that there are some people that have houses not too far away from the reservoir, and a couple of times they ended up with some birdshot in trees on their property. We’re not talking recently, we’re talking a couple of years ago.”

Selectman Szatkowski said, Let’s just table that until we get a clarification from Marty.”

First Selectman Knickerbocker then made a motion to table the topic until the next meeting, which was seconded by Selectman Szatkowski. A vote was taken and motion was approved in favor, unanimously.

NOTE: I wonder if they will remember this next year?


View discussion about hunting permits beginning at mark 52:36 in video of July 21, 2020 Bethel Board of Selectmen meeting below:


View hunt request letter from Germinaro below, and also the special instructions and regulations, and proposal. Also view documents HERE:

Be sure to attend tonight’s virtual meeting at 7PM and ask, during public comment, questions about why the Board of Selectmen is considering allowing hunting on town property, at the same time as where families and children hike and do other recreation, if it is not permitted in our town?

Video/ Teleconference video link: