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Open to ideas on open space

Bethlehem opened up the discussion on its proposed open space plan Thursday, Oct. 23.

Holding their third public hearing on the possible townwide comprehensive land use plan, town officials focused the meeting on three specific topics: recreation and pathways; natural systems and agriculture; and farming as it pertains to the proposal.

The meeting began at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, with attendance lighter than the May meeting but with a similar format. Residents were broken into smaller groups to brainstorm and discuss the topics.

Town Planner Jeffrey Lipnicky gave the initial presentation to residents, followed by information from Senior Planner Robert Leslie.

Lipnicky said safe routes and connectivity to nearby parks and recreation, farming and agriculture, and environmental protection were some of things residents identified as important in previous meetings. He said trespassing concerns have come up a number of times concerning the proposed open space plan.

Some of the types of issues that came out [of the discussions] that we continuously hear were trespassing on private property, the issues of encroachment, liability concerns regarding trespass and things of that nature, Lipnicky said. "And these are issues that we will obviously need to address as we move on."

One focus of the meeting was asking residents to identify goals for the town that could be included in the open space plan, and Leslie discussed what types of land are in town.

"We have about 426 acres of public recreation land, and that represents roughly 1 percent of our town land area and this is made up of our town parks like Elm Avenue Park, the Henry Hudson Park and the smaller neighborhood parks like the North Bethlehem and South Bethlehem parks," Leslie said.

"Colonial Acres is one of our latest recreational areas."

The town maintains Colonial Acres Golf Course, which is leased from the Open Space Institute for $1 a year.

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