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Town banks on creek access

"For some piddly amount I can relinquish my fishing rights?" Jasinski rhetorically asked during the meeting. "I still have to kick people out every [fishing] season. I enjoy my peace and quiet."

Dawson said she wanted to wait to vote on the matter.

"What would be the downside of tabling this until the Open Space Committee can look at this?" asked Dawson. "I'm quite frankly uncomfortable passing this tonight."

Cunningham responded that it was not an open space matter and that entering an agreement with the DEC wouldn't affect the matter of trespassing along the banks of the Onesquethaw.

"It's an enforcement matter," he said.

Dawson quietly voted "yes" on the measure after all four other board members voted in favor of its passing. When asked about her vote after the meeting took place, Dawson confirmed that she did vote in favor of it.

Councilman Sam Messina, who said he is an avid fisherman, joked, "I may not be much of a fisherman, but I do go fishing a lot." He said he was in favor of the DEC agreement.

Messina said he was skeptical of one resident's claim that opening town land to the public will result in a large number of anglers trespassing on private land.

"I respect that and certainly the rights of the homeowners," Messina said. "They (DEC sites) don't draw a lot of cars and they don't draw a lot of fishers."

Councilman Mark Hennessey asked if people were already fishing in the creek on town property to which Cunningham answered, "yes."

Councilman Kyle Kotary agreed with Cunningham that the trespassing problem is an enforcement issue, saying, "People shouldn't be trespassing regardless of whether we pass this."

Cunningham encouraged homeowners to report trespassing on private land along the Onesquethaw Creek to the Bethlehem Police Department or to the DEC, and he reminded residents to post signs on private property.

Jasinski described her experience of calling the DEC and town police about trespassers a waste of time, saying "Don't even bother with the DEC, it took them three hours to come to my house and the local police aren't much better."

Cunningham told residents "nothing's sold" at this point. An official agreement has yet to be signed between the town of Bethlehem and the state's DEC, but the supervisor now has the authority to do so.

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