The town council has approved the land acquisition question voters will see on Election Day — whether to appropriate $3 million to purchase open space and preserve land.
The question voters will see on the ballot is: "Shall the town of Glastonbury appropriate $3,000,000 for the purchase of development rights and acquisition of land pursuant to ordinance establishing the town's reserve for land acquisition and authorize the issue of bonds and notes in the same amount to finance said appropriation?"
Since the program began with $2 million in 1988, voters have approved a total of $28 million to purchase more than 1,550 acres, including places like the Old Cider Mill, Blackledge Falls and the Addison Bog and Woodlands. The funding is not spent until a property becomes available, a sales price is negotiated, two public hearings are held and a vote is taken by the town council.
"We are leaving it up to the townspeople whether or not they want to give us the ability to preserve our land," Councilman Lawrence J. Byar said. "It doesn't mean the money is going to be spent unless a specific property that furthers the needs of this community would come before us. We are going to be looking a lot finer at these acquisitions."
Byar added, if the state budget uncertainty continues, he would not be surprised to see much activity or borrowing on the $3 million by the council. Council Vice-Chairman Whit C. Osgood said he had reservations going to voters and believes whatever the state does — or doesn't do — with the budget will influence how the council proceeds with the funding.
"But I also realize there are parcels of land in town that are potentially available for sale that we very well may want to acquire, so having this flexibility is important to us and this has been a successful program for us," he said.
This will be the 11th time residents have voted on land acquisition. Each time, voters overwhelmingly gave their approval. Councilman William T. Finn has voted in favor of the expenditures in the past, but is against the funding this time.
"The likelihood of this appropriation being spent … is a done business," he said. "This council has never taken any action to appropriate money for land acquisition and not found properties. I don't think $3 million for additional property in this environment is an appropriate expenditure."
Councilman Thomas P. Gullotta said the decision is in the hands of the voters.
"Let it go to the public. Let them make the final decision. If they do what they've done for the last 20 years, they will vote in favor," he said.