Minutes of Board of Directors Meetings October 29th, 2007
Members in Attendance:
J. Casertano (secretary)
E. Esty, Democratic Candidate for First District, Town Council
L. Murray, Republican Candidate for First District, Town Council
Kim Stoner began the meeting with introductions on candidates for Town Council. Each candidate made a short presentation of their own position on open space and the current status of Boulder Knoll Farm.
E. Esty made the following points:
– No decision regarding the property will be made until ERT results are in. Mowing of the farm must be done regularly and soon to prevent reforestation The Council has not shut the door on FBK proposal at Boulder Knoll, no vote has been taken either way. She is uncertain if Boulder Knoll is the most appropriate space for a community farm, as water contamination is still an issue.
– Town may, in the future, use the ERT process for other parcels of open space. Land use plans will be developed under the auspices of the Environment Commission for other parcels of open space.
– One of the biggest issues for open space in town is effective policing of property to ensure its environmental protection; notes problems of ATVs on Dime Savings Bank property- how to stop and prevent this; how to also allow public use of open space in a non damaging manner. She believes that education of the town is critical on this point.
L. Murray made the following points:
– He does not understand what the problems and hold up is at Boulder Knoll Farm- in the past the water has been used and the land has been mowed.
– Mowing must be done. He expressed frustration that the town declined to allow a private citizen to mow the land, instead insisting on using public funds.
– Does not believe that the town should use large sums of public funds for the barn at Boulder Knoll, but sees it as a serious danger and its problems issues need to be resolved or the barn torn down.
– Views farms as an essential element in history of Cheshire and efforts need to be made to preserve farmland and the traditional taste of the town
Bob Giddings raised the following points/questions:
– The water is not fine at Boulder Knoll, but a new well could be drilled that would provide water for a farming operation. NRCS will reimburse 90% of cost for well drilling. With a potential cost of $15,000. to drill a new well, the town’s cost would only be $1,500. What of this?
– The town needs funds to maintain open space. Would candidates support a referendum for funds to maintain open space?
L. Murray response:
– Town should not buy that which it can not take care of.
E. Esty response:
– Some open space funds are currently available for maintenance of open space.
Other funds, specifically those which have come from DEP or other state and/or federal sources, may be “bundled” in different ways, which may prevent expenditure for maintenance of open space.
Ron Gagliardi asked about the candidates openness to the idea of an Agricultural Commission.
L. Murray responded that citizens’ groups such as our have a lot to offer to the town and should be allowed to participate.
Al Mitlehner noted that the town has not to date been receptive to our efforts to participate.
At this point a copy of the chronology developed by Kim Stoner was given to Candidate Murray.
Kim Stoner inquired about the confusion regarding responsibility for open space in town. Specifically, she referred to the role of the Environment Commission to create management plans but the role of Parks and Recreation to implement such plans. Environment commission can not implement its plans nor has funds to do so.
Candidate Murray responded that this is an example of “passing the buck” in the current town government that prevents effective management.
Councilwoman Esty responded that this is an issue of the Town Charter, which reflects the need to revise the Town Charter. (She also noted that the charter itself makes changing the charter very difficult, but efforts at charter reform are under discussion in the Council.)
Greg Melville at this point inquired on the current status of our proposal, in regards to the Council and the town attorney.
E. Esty responded that our proposal is not dead in the Planning Committee as it has never been voted on. She believes that we should withdraw our proposal and focus on mowing. Nothing will be done until the ERT results are in.
Greg ask that our file be removed from the files on the former town attorney and be given to Dwight Johnson, the current attorney. Esty promised to look into this and stated that she believed Johnson’s firm has experience with issues of land use. (Esty excused herself at this time.)
L. Murray closed by stating that he really wishes to simplify the process of starting something at Boulder Knoll Farm, and to help us get our vision going.
Fellis thanked Jeff for his questions to the forum for candidates to Town Council. Jeff reported that all candidates voiced support of idea of agriculture commission and a policy to maintain agricultural open space.
Kim continued that we are at another turning point and need to stop, reassess and refocus on our goals as an organization. She distributed copies of goals from holistic planning meeting with Erica Frenay for discussion. She also noted that we need to prepare for the release of the ERT and prepare a response for the town, in hopes of helping the guide the town through the ERT, perhaps in our favor.
Discussion followed of the need to prepare to streamline our proposal and the results of the ERT. Ideas regarding reaching out to other town organizations, such as Park and Recreation, to accomplish goals were also discussed. The need to focus on the Planning Committee who will actually make final decision was also discussed.
Kim Stoner redirected the group to other issues:
1) Jeff Rapoport is to be given a key to the mail box so that he may collect mail and ensure that dues funds are deposited in a timely manner.
2) Jill, Jeff and Fellis will work together to solidify and unify mailing and member lists to ensure all members are receiving emails and postal mail.
3) A copy of the agreement with the Community Foundation of New Haven has been given to a lawyer by Jeff, and approval to sign the agreement appears close at hand. Jeff indicated that 1% of all donations via the Foundation will go to the foundation, and we can direct the recipient of the 1%.
4) Bob read both a letter of thanks and award of recognition to Diane Visconti for her work on our behalf. Kim expressed hope that the letter also noted thanks for facilitating communication and ensuring access to information for us. This letter and award of recognition will be given to Diane at the last Town Council meeting of her term.
5) Coming Adult Education presentation by Jiff Martin from the Working Lands Alliance on November 15. We will send an information reminder/invitation to members of Town Council, the Planning Committee, the Environment Commission and Parks and Rec. to attend.
6) Reminder for membership dues payment will be sent in the mail to those who have not yet paid. Color brochure will be sent along with a letter outlining the accomplishments of the FBK in the past year and a return envelope.
Further discussion of the goals for the organization and the results of the ERT was tabled until the next meeting