By John Anderson
At last night’s Board of Selectmen’s Meeting, a vote was taken to not accept an anonymous $1 million donation towards the purchase of former agricultural land on Southold Rd. The town will now have to bond the entire $2.865 million cost.
In a surprising 3-2 vote, the selectmen ignored the advise of the Finance Committee and Town Meeting Members. In a roll call vote, selectmen Dan Carpenter, Denise Brotherton and Stephen Simonian turned down the donation while Ken Holstrom and Doreen Goodrich voted in favor of accepting the gift.
The general sentiment was that the perpetual passive recreation restriction was too much. Simonian said he could not vote on something that would tie the hands of a future Board of Selectmen.
Carpenter commented that he was not in favor of developing the property and felt a portion of the land should have a permanent conservation restriction. He also said that other land assets owned by the town need to be evaluated for potential use or conservation.
The anonymous donor had apparently pressured the town on the acceptance and wanted a quick decision. Without a decision, the offer would have been withdrawn.
At a recent Finance Committee meeting, they voted unanimously to accept the $1 million donation. In a straw poll requested by Moderator Charles Baker and tallied by Town Clerk Ellen Gaboury, 43 elected town meeting members voted to accept the gift; 36 voted to not accept; and 1 abstained.
Only 80 of the 103 members who attended the special town meeting about the land purchase answered the survey. Baker only sent the survey to those members who came to the meeting. Ironically, 80 is the number of members necessary for a quorum, so this straw vote is valid.
This was a tough decision for the Board to make with numerous aspects to be considered. Hopefully, it was the right decision.