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Town aims to push 20/20 plan ahead

Committees to be formed to implement three planks of plan platform

Months after a long-term study was submitted, the Town of Bethlehem will be taking action to move recommendations made in the 20/20 Advisory Committee's report forward.

The Town Board voted unanimously Wednesday, March 24, to move forward an implementation plan that would see the formation of three committees tasked with studying the original report's three core areas for improvement: economic development, cooperation between the taxing districts in town and town government operations.

Supervisor Sam Messina put forward the resolution, and said a letter from his office will be going out soon to the 26 former 20/20 Committee members inviting them to participate in the process.

Councilman Mark Hennessey said the original plan benefited from having a large number of voices involved, but also suggested the town look further than the original group to engage in these follow up studies.

I think it's really important to bring new voices into this discussion, he said.

Messina has drafted an implementation schedule that will be fine-tuned and released in coming days, and said he thinks Town Board members should have involvement in the upcoming process.

The Town Board suggested a representative from each taxing district in town be on the taxing jurisdiction committee. This would include the school district and fire districts.

Councilman Kyle Kotary said it's important to note many of the committee's original recommendations have been implemented, including advancing open space preservation, consolidating water service and creating a capital plan.

He also expressed support for forming the committees and moving the rest of the 20/20 recommendations forward.

"These three proposals, rather than kick off the 20/20 plancomplete our work," he said. "We've already made progress and we've been making progress."

The 20/20 Advisory Committee submitted its final report to the town in June 2009. The group started meeting in late 2008 with the goal of examining where the town would be in the year 2020 and how to best meet the town's goals by this deadline.

Messina said he has no intention of letting the plan languish in committee.

"I've spent my life working for bureaucracy, and I'm not doing this to be bureaucratic," he said.

Kotary echoed that sentiment and cautioned the town cannot let its drive be lost.

"This by no means shirks our responsibilityfrom being able to analyze and make decisions."

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