Don’t anticipate, some say. And such was the case at Monday night’s Representative Town Meeting held at the Education Center on Kings Highway.
The expected face-off between Republicans and Democrats over the GOP’s proposed plan to reduce the number of voting districts in the town from 10 to eight was shelved.
“The Democrats have slowed it down and it’s still in committee,” said David Becker (R-1), the RTM majority leader and a member of the six-person committee evenly divided between the GOP and Democrats.
After a lengthy discussion, the body voted to waive Rule 32 of the rules to regulate the RTM proceedings and plan to address the redistricting issue at the next RTM meeting on June 25.
Earlier in the evening, the RTM approved the acquisition of 1.19 acres on Cross Highway, a patch of land abutting the Merritt Parkway, from the state for a $1,000 conveyance fee for “passive recreation use only.”
Hal Schwartz, D-7, added the clause, saying, “I don’t want it turning into a playground, a softball field, or anything else.”
There was considerable discussion on the matter. Peter Ambrose, R-2, was opposed to the acquisition. “It’s land-locked,” he said. “I really don’t see any logic in adding this land.”
Another Republican, Kathy Braun, R-8, disagreed. “This is essentially free land. I think it would be foolish not to take it,” she stated.
Sheila Marmion, D-6, Heather Dean, D-4, and several others spoke in favor of acquiring this parcel of open space from the state. However, Mary McCullough, R-3, was opposed. “Whether we own it, or the state owns it,” she said, “it can’t be used.”
The Department of Transportation (DOT) offered to sell the land – which has been owned by the state since 1937 – in its plan to reduce the amount of unused land from state ledgers.
Ultimately, the RTM approved the acquisition by a vote of 24-19, with three abstentions. Conservation Director Thomas Steinke said that cleanup work at the site will begin in June.
The RTM also voted in favor of a community development block grant application to HUD in the tentative amount of $431,202. There were three abstentions but no nays.