The town council unanimously approved sending a proposal to add $2 million to the town’s land acquisition fund to referendum this November.
If approved at referendum, the plan would add $2 million to the land acquisition fund, which town officials referred to as one of the most successful town land acquisition programs in the state.
“This fund is one of the best things a council ever did,” said Councilman Thomas P. Gullotta, D. “It’s good for Glastonbury; it’s good for the environment.”
Gullotta has served on the council since the program’s inception in 1988. Since then, the fund has helped the town acquire more than 1,500 acres of land. With just $1.5 million remaining in the fund, the town is seeking authorization to add the $2 million for upcoming purchases and potential acquisitions.
Councilman Kurt P. Cavanaugh, R, said that the current funds aren’t sufficient to cover possible future purchases of which the town is currently aware.
“Quite frankly, $1.5 million is not enough for the current projects we have before us,” Cavanaugh said. “I think $2 million would be a nice nest egg for us to move in the future.”
Members of the council were also quick to point out that the $2 million in funding only gives them the authorization to purchase properties that become available, and isn’t a guarantee that the funds will be spent. Once a property is acquired, the town must hold two public hearing and then the council must vote to release the funds.
Councilman Timothy Coon, D, said that he felt now was an opportune time to purchase land, due to lower bonding costs and “motivated sellers.”
Councilman Whit C. Osgood, R, said he historically supported the program during his decade on the council, but moved to lower the amount sent to referendum to $1 million, citing concerns that the town would be reticent to approve the funds along with the . The motion was defeated 8-1, and Osgood joined the rest of the council in ultimately approving the $2 million in funding for the program.
Council Chairman Stewart “Chip” Beckett III, R, said that historically the town has overwhelmingly supported the land acquisition program. Voters approved adding $2 million to the fund in 1988, 1997 and 2009—the last time money was added to the fund. They also approved $3 million for the fund in 1999, 2001, and 2003. They supported a $4 million addition in 2004 and 2007.
“This has held taxes down, preserved open space and the town's rural character,” Beckett said. “I would expect the public would support it again.”
The referendum will go before voters on Nov. 6.