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Board of Selectman ‘Special Meeting’ to Discuss Religious Displays Does NOT Include Public Input, Nov. 12th

Report by Paula Antolini, November 11, 2019, 1:112PM EDT

An agenda has just been posted on the Town of Bethel website for a notice of a Board of Selectman “Special Town Meeting” November 12, 2019, 6:30pm, in Room “A” of the Bethel CJH Municipal Center.

Also a Board of Finance meeting is scheduled for 7:30pm, Room A, at the CJH Municipal Center so does this mean the BOS meeting is only one hour long?

The topics of the November 12th agenda include:

  • Call to order / Pledge of Allegiance
  • Approval of minutes from regular meeting, October 15, 2019
  • Consideration of Holiday Display Applications
  • Consideration of approval for Bethel Police Department request of Motorola portable radios
  • Consideration of appropriation of fund balance for previously approved capital expenditures
  • Consideration of Establishing Special Town Meeting

One of the hot topics is the religious displays or “Holiday Display Applications” as it is termed in the agenda, but there is no indication for Public Input, which is odd for such a controversial topic.

Major decisions on any of these topics may or may not be made tomorrow but now we know residents can’t even discuss topics with the Board of Selectmen.

We have confirmation from Eileen Earle of Bethel Parks and Recreation, that 5 religious display applications were submitted to the Town of Bethel this year, but no word on who submitted them, which the public is anxious to know.

WHY IS PUBLIC COMMENT NOT ALLOWED on such a controversial topic?

The notice was NOT listed where all other meeting information is posted under “Meetings” tab on the front page, but placed under the “agendas and minutes” heading at the bottom of the page where you have to go through 4 clicks to get to it, and be looking for it, at the bottom of the list of BOS “Forms and Documents” – “Meetings and Minutes.” It was also JUST listed on the town calendar recently. Yes this is within the 24 hours notice, but not to anyone who does not use a computer and relies on the paper post on the bulletin board in the CJH Municipal Center lobby, since the building is closed today.

Other agenda topics include approving October 15th meeting minutes which include approval for Parloa Playground equipment $35,945.66 but NO approval of the much needed Bethel Fire & EMS ladder truck and instead, the board requested more extensive information from the fire department even after they submitted a lengthy report. This continues to put residents lives in jeopardy with the fire department having to rely on mutual aid from other towns to help in the event of a fire, adding precious minutes on to response time. Presently Bethel FD is operating without a working ladder/aerial truck and has for some tine now.

Call First Selectman Knickerbocker at (203) 794-8501 or email immediately to firstselectman@bethel-ct.gov or drop off letters tomorrow to First Selectman Knickerbocker’s office at 1 School Street, Bethel CT, asking why there is no Pubic Input at this Special Meeting, and give your written comments asking that they be read aloud at the meeting. Also ask why they are not immediately approving an aerial fire truck to keep residents safe.

Here are some other agendas of meetings held at the same time tomorrow with other important topics:

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