Bethlehem has open dialogue over open space

One conclusion of the draft recommendation's report to the Citizens Advisory Committee on Conservation (CACC) is that continued public involvement is key.

"Through the evaluation of residents' input at public meetings and conversations with the

Citizens Advisory Committee on Conservation, it appears that community interest lay in

developing creative ways to preserve and finance open space," it states. "During these difficult economic times, this report has established an action plan for the Town of Bethlehem that centers on recommendations that are both fiscally responsible and achievable. By continuing to work together as a community to address these needs and opportunities, the fruit of that labor will benefit not only current Bethlehem residents, but future generations as well."

Several of those in attendance said the town needs to draft an actual plan for people to look at.

"I think CACC should take a stronger stand on open space development," said town Planning Board member John Smolinski, who later added that "perhaps it's the Town Board that needs more resolve."

"If it has a plan and puts it on the table for everyone to comment on," he said, "then I think everyone would benefit."

A representative from the Hudson Mohawk Land Conservancy said there is a lack of response from town police when it comes to trespassing issues. Resident Lisa Evans, who has served on several town committees including the local waterfront revitalization plan, said there needs to be more urgency in terms of funding a plan.

"There isn't anything [in the recommendation] in terms of funding things now," she said.

Another resident, Ted Jennings, said an open space plan would only serve to help residents, saying, "A strong open space program goes a long way to increases property values in town."

Resident Ken Neff pointed to the low turnout at the meeting, saying, "This doesn't represent the community," adding that many in attendance were committee members and "this is a game between two groups."

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