Letter To The Editor: Old Town Hall Public Hearing

Billy Michael writes about tomorrow's public hearing

Subject: Fw: Bethel Public Hearing
From Billy Michael  

Good Morning on the first day of Spring 

 Bethel Action Committee believes that the rescheduled "Public Hearing " is  a power point presentation to justify a vote to demolish the building that has already been taken.  The March 7 News Times story is proof that the Public Hearing scheduled for Wed Mar. 21 is just a formality to give the illusion of government by consent of the people.

Mr. Knickerbocker made it clear that they have already decided regardless of what the public hearing may reveal.  This administration revealed the same disregard for the citizenry  when the fees for the recycle center were raised without a public hearing and the Selectmen  scheduled a public hearing after the fees were already raised to comply with the Town Charter. 

In Town Meeting form of government elected officials should hold public hearings that  measure public sentiment before they  act  instead of after  the fact. How  can they pretend to serve the public without consulting the public?   

The Dec. 2000  Town Meeting/Referendum  on the Library Renovation guaranteed that the Old Town Hall would remain and that parking to comply with zoning regulations would be found nearby off site.Does the  $70,000 "Handicap Ramp to Nowhere" come to mind? That ramp on the west side of the Municipal Center was supposed to be the beginning of additional municipal parking.  

The municipal center has two handicap ramps neither of which are easily accessable by someone confined to wheelchair. Westside  municipal parking would justify the expense of a ramp that is yet to be truly utilized.  Finally if the  Bd of Selectmen wants to reverse the will of the Dec 2000 town meeting they need to call for a town meeting to do so. It cannot be reversed by a vote of three temporary elected officials.The old town hall is a permanent structure and asset of the town; the  demolition which deserves the involvement of the widest number of citizens possible.     

In December of 2010  Mr. Knickerbocker was passionate about referring his multi-million dollar road plan to voters at referendum vote; we hope he will be  equally passionate about referring this issue to  Bethel voters as well.    

The  Annual Budget Referendum  in May would be a logical place to weigh public sentiment on this very contentious issue   

Bill Hillman March 23, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Mr. Rodgers, You know that the rules are such that a vacancy MUST be filled by a member of the party for which the vacancy is being filled. This was an Independent party (Bob Fand's party) seat. When you run for office, you know up front those are the rules. Your hard work and interest in serving the Town is laudable, but the rules are also set up to protect minority parties so that if one of theirs is elected, the party retains representation. Personally, I can't say who worked harder (not really relevant at this point), but Bryan is a decent person, and fit the role according to State law, the number of votes notwithstanding.
Bob Rogers March 23, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Thank you, exactly my point, it's not relevant who worked harder. I was only commenting that it became a mantra whenever this subject came up. Starting the day after the election and other flare-ups. Bethel's a wonderful town, a shout out for Belardinelli Tires who donated $150 for the BHS Swim team to the Children's Tumor Foundation in honor of Ashley Zowine, the 2005 Swim team captain who passed this winter at only 25 years old.
Cathy McCullen March 23, 2012 at 04:02 AM
I am sorry Paul, I ment the Republican chairman of the board of Ed, sorry
Don Goodrich March 23, 2012 at 12:40 PM
My only comment to Billy Michael's endless debunkng of town officials is to wonder why he has never run for any public office. I believed he did serve on the PUC several years but never in an elected role. If he is so disappointed with the work of so many Board members why doesn't he at least attempt to become a member of any one of these committees. Change can come more easily if you are in the system. Though I often strongly disagree with Phil Gallagher I respect the fact that hee has served the town for numerous years as an elected official on the BOS and BOF. Seems all Billy wants to do is say NO, NO, NO, do it my way. Sometimees I wonder if he would even recognize his way before he came out and said NO to it. Is he afraid of what people might say to thee way he serves as an elected (and in most cases unpaid) official. I am in my 17th year on the Inland Wetlands Commission and I am honored and happy to be able to continue to serve Bethel in that capacity. How about it Billy, run for any office next election.
SmallMinds March 23, 2012 at 01:42 PM
May I officially and without reservation apologize for any offense that may have been taken from my comments on Bryan Terzian. I felt I had gone out of my way to state that my critiques were not aimed at him but, rather, at the process. Any shortcomings I identified regarding his qualifications (in my opinion) were not in any way reflections upon his character, his intelligence or his sincere desire to serve. Personally I don't completely get the idea of ensuring that Dr.Fand gets to pick someone to get a vote on the Bd of Ed. If you want 'minority' representation then you can vote for someone in a minority party. If they can't do the job for whatever reason, leave the seat open for the few months until the next election. The 'minority' in our town are the members of ANY political party. Only about 25% are registered either D or R. I believe that approximately 50% of our town voters are not members of any political party. I also think that most of the people who are registered "Independent", and have therefore given a vote to Dr Fand, are mistakenly thinking that when they register that they are declaring "no affiliation" when they check the box marked "Independent". Billly Michael representing himself as the leader of some "committee" is rather ridiculous on its face. The charade that this Bethel Action Committee is more than him and his son and maybe one or two other guys he has coffee with is nothing more than self-aggrandizement and delusion.
SmallMinds March 23, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Ooops. That was vague. I meant that about 25% are D and about another 25% are R. Not a total of 25% for D plus R.
Paul Improta March 23, 2012 at 02:34 PM
One thing we can say about Billy, that unlike his compatriots who head the ProNothing Party, and who will argue both sides of an issue simultaneously without seeing the hypocrisy in it, Billy has been consistently libertarian, not to mention he is a hwole lot more likeable.
laurel draper March 23, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I didnt want to jump in on this since it has been debated and argued enough times that we know where everyone stands on this issue....but when reading some of these posts, well I am amazed at the tone some take with others who do not agree with their opinions. In Mr. Micheals defense, from what I have seen, he has always been courteous and respectful when discussing or debating......I have not seen evidence that it is true for all who have posted on this topic.
SmallMinds March 23, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Mr Michael represents himself as the "Bethel Action Committee" which engaged, over many years, in some very nasty tactics. If he wants to distance himself from this record of nastiness he simply can refrain from citing this as the platform from which he speaks.
Paul Improta March 23, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Thanks. Apology accepted.
Paul Improta March 23, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Which topic, Bryan Terzian or the old town hall?
laurel draper March 25, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Well since the topic was about the old town hall...well that was what I was referring to...I think obviously so ....and as to the other remark....well I'm just trying to figure out 1) what it is supposed to mean and 2) what does this have to do with the old town hall? I suggest if one wants to start a let's bash those that don't agree with me post to feel free to do so....that will leave the subject at hand open to those of us who do not go to that level and keep the topic open for the discussion for which it was originally started....just sayin
laurel draper March 25, 2012 at 12:20 AM
And mr Goodrich....you see we see the same thing, from those that don't agree with our opinion....no,no,no,....tear it down..do it our way!!! It's impossible to do it your way....it's useless to try....so since their are other opinions as valuable as yours....here's a novel idea....let the people who own it (taxpayers) decide....we agree if the majority say tear it down so be it.....why are you all so afraid to give the public a say? Maybe, just maybe the majority will want to preserve the building...and given the very well not so good excuse to keep it I can understand why you all must be afraid...the sewer issue and their proposed new vision for bethel, was a ploy to make people think we could not have this wonderful money maker with the bld still there....it has little or no impact at all....mr knickerbocker made it sound like one or the other, which is not true...period. You can have both!!! And I would like to see the notes on who spoke to whom regarding approaching the bank or dr volpintesta....not some study...I want too hear from the people themselves...is that too much to ask?
J. P. Gallagher March 25, 2012 at 01:24 PM
The voters of Bethel will most likely over ride any vote by the Board of Selectmen to demolish the brick, cape cod style Town Hall building. However to do something positive with the building there will have to be either a change of heart or a change of leadership and composition of both the Board of Selectmen and the Planning and Zoning Commission and Department!
Bill Hillman March 25, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Laurel, I proposed a referendum for discussion at a recent RTC meeting, and the feedback was mostly negative. With no support from the leadership of either party, the only way to get this to a machine vote (not a one-sided Town meeting) is by petition. I would only suggest the old adage, "be careful what you wish for". What if... enough signatures are able to force a machine vote AND what if the voters say "keep it". Then what... if P&Z stands firm, there's little that can be done short of litigation to do anything with the building. Were there some support amongst the town boards, perhaps something could be done, at this point, I think the Town needs to move on. We were snookered with the design and scope of the library over a decade ago, the asbestos abatement grant for the OTH was not used, the building was allowed to rot, P&Z will not approve its use without parking, and they will not allow a cut in on school street. Let's move on and enjoy the the wide open parking spaces. Just maybe there's be room for a bush or a tree.
Paul Improta March 25, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Phil, for the first 10 years of my career and for 30 before I got there, our firm had been involved in real estate services, including land use, tax appeals for large commercial clients, representing clients before the Urban Renewal Commission in Stamford regarding eminent domain and appraisal for existing properties, we argued zone changes, and we developed a few office buildings and condo properties along the way. Some our clients you would be familiar with. Though I focused primarily on the insurance aspect of our business, I was part of the discussions with clients. My fear with this issue is that you will get a majority to agree the town should sell, to then find after developers review all it will take to fix this building, no one will be willing to lose $300,000 to $500,000 making the building useable. It's just simple math. The property has a negative net worth. Even if you gave it away, it's a loser. So, what then, what's your exit strategy? How long should the town give for the preservationists to eventually come to the same conclusion that the only choice for this building is to tear it down?
Paul Improta March 25, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Bill, it would go to the ZBA, not the P&Z.
Bill Hillman March 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Thanks, Paul, I stand corrected, outcome the same though.
BOB CRNIC March 30, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Let the people of Bethel decide the fate of this building. Mr. Improta does not own that building, we all do. Let us all decide it's fate collectively in a town-wide referendum. I pose this scenario; if anyone of us were offered that building at no charge, as-is, we would all take it sight unseen. All the negative hype from people who want to tear it down is just that - hype. Mr. Goodrich; Billy Michael has run for elected positions and your dear friend Mr. (hot air) Knickerbocker replaced him on the PUC. You don't like him cause you're a fiscal spendthrift and he's not. BTW: how's that road recovery plan working out for you over there in Aunt Hack? I heard it's one million dollars over budget to pave that goat path of a boulder field you live on.. Talk about wasteful special interest spending - Liberals always looking for that handout from public coffers...
Jimmy Pursey March 30, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Ugh. I just don't understand how you and Billy haven't been run out of town with pitchforks yet, Bobby. Perhaps a "reality show" would better suit your need for attention..."Bethel House Husbands."
BOB CRNIC March 30, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Yeah, Jimmy whoever you are...let's run me and whoever else is opposed to tearing down the town hall out of town with pitch forks...that's a great idea. Do me a favor get a real name...and than tell me how much you hate my guts... BTW: I run a real business, what's your excuse?
Jimmy Pursey March 30, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Yeah we do, the guy that thought Kevin Gallagher could get elected...hahahahahaha!
BOB CRNIC March 30, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Jimmy, you are the one who started this this by wanting to "run me out of town with a pitchfork." And for the record, you have never emailed me privately lately unless of course you're Paul Improta. In that case, I've already reported you for harrassment. The bottom line is that building was allowed to deteriorate by Mr. KNickerbocker who had the chance to accept the winning bid to remediate the asbestos and lead back in Dec of '09' and now after letting the building rot for two more years he wants to tear it down. Quite a lasting legacy. Instead of building up Bethel, Mr. Knickerbocker tears it down. At least not if the people of Bethel have any say over it. And the lie he tells are endless. He did get an offer for $400K we know who offered it and there were witnesses. He has not attempted to sell the building or talk to the adjoining prperty owners about creating a municipal parking lot either. This public servant has forgotten how to serve or maybe he never knew how in the first place. With Dr. Chesley as his mentor, it's amazing we still have any town surplus left or a Town charter.. BTW: can anyone find out what the actual real current CASH balance is in our town surplus accounts?
Eric T Gray March 30, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Bobby and Jimmy, why don't you meet each other in person to talk about your differences instead of this nice forum. There is no problem with differing opinions, but you guys are name calling and posting personal insults? Aren't you embarrassed with the way you carry yourself? I'm almost embarrassed for you. To think that anyone that acts like this, and also has or could have a say in how our town is being run is absolutely frightening to me...
Christine Rose (Editor) March 30, 2012 at 08:19 PM
It's been a great conversation, let's keep it respectful, okay guys? Thanks!!
BOB CRNIC March 30, 2012 at 08:49 PM
I have no problem with debating the issues, but it's your job to keep the annonymous iddiots in line when they start the name calling...and they are IDIOTS
BOB CRNIC March 30, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Whitney Rd resident: If I replied to your comment by wanting to "run you out of town with a pitchfork", you'd be taking a different tone with your rebuttal and it would be understandable. II'll be damned to allow "Jimmy" or anyone get away with that sort of hate speech directed to me personally.
Jimmy Pursey March 30, 2012 at 08:58 PM
See this is what I mean, Bob. You just accused me of being a "socialist", "on drugs" and "a porn star" in the post that was deleted. Now, as always...you flip the script and play the victim. This is exactly the sort of drama queen attitude that serves no one, except your own need for attention.
BOB CRNIC March 30, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Jimmy, you need to stick to the issues or move on...you're a self-professed out of towner as you stated and stop trying to deflect the blame when it's you that started this heated exchange with your initial comments. And calling me a racist is heck of stretch. What's the matter, you can dish it out but you can't take it? Stick to the freaking issue... Name calling is an equal opportunity employer...unlike the Town of Bethel where virtually half the employees are related to one another...
Barbara Nelson May 08, 2012 at 08:08 PM
The BoE Chairman is masquerading as a Republican, he's about as liberal as they come.


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