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Bethlehem Town Board candidates take questions in debate

"There are a lot of Americans working on one income that are not getting a raise," he said.

The candidates were questioned on the topic of economic growth, and specifically were asked about a controversial proposed development of housing and commercial space near the intersection of Feura Bush Road and Elsemer Avenue.

Kotary and Flanagan noted that the town's comprehensive plan calls for a hamlet-like development at that location, and encouraged residents to continue communication with Town Hall on the issue. Di Maggio and Jordan both acknowledged the need for development buy mentioned that the comprehensive plan was drafted in 2005, and should not be taken as gospel.

"Just because it's permitted doesn't mean it's the best use," said Di Maggio.

Jordan suggested that the economic downturn and slowing of development might present an opportunity to revisit the plan. None of the candidates expressly condemned or supported the project.

A brief moment of levity was introduced through a question about the recently completed parking lot expansion at the Bethlehem Public Library. Kotary noted that as a library project, the town did not have a role in the expansion, and the candidates politely deferred issuing opinions for the most part.

Flanagan said that if elected, he would call for more meetings in the community and better public access.

"Bring it to the residents, not just here in Town Hall, but out in Bethlehem," he said.

Jordan spoke on the importance of expanding the town's commercial tax base, and said one way to attract businesses would be to invest in infrastructure and contain the cost of energy.

Kotary, the only candidate gunning for reelection, mentioned the planks of the platform he ran on four years ago"including implementing the comprehensive plan, open space preservation, sidewalk construction and finding efficiencies"and said that he has been pleased at what the Town Board has accomplished during his tenure.

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