EASTON, Conn. With the new year just a couple of days old, The Daily Easton asked Selectman Robert Lessler to look back on the year gone by in Easton and to give some insight on what he foresees for the town in 2012. These are his answers:
1. Looking ahead to 2012, where would you like to see the town go?
The biggest challenge for 2012 will be to ensure that our budget for the next fiscal year is respectful of the pressures on local taxpayers as the economy continues its slow recovery, while at the same time meeting the needs of the community for strong programs, emergency services, public works, fair treatment of our outstanding town employees, and excellent services for all residents from students to seniors.
More broadly, we need to think about the long-term and plan ahead. We do a good job of trying to protect and preserve the past, but we never seem to get around to planning for the future. We react to projects like Saddle Ridge , for example, but we do not do much to prepare for them ahead of time.
2. Are there any projects or proposals that you would like to see finished or started as the year moves along?
I hope that the n ew animal shelter is up and running early in the new year. I hope to attend the formal dedication of the Sept. 11th memorial . I hope that town hall departments will be able to work together cooperatively and effectively to improve communication and coordinate hours, computer use and overall operations and better serve the public.
I hope the status of the South Park Avenue property is resolved this year so that planning and development can begin for whatever comes next for the site. If it ends up with the town because the New England Prayer Center decides not to purchase the property, I hope that we will give serious consideration to a use for this property that serves the greater good.
We can do this by protecting the river and by considering uses that do more for people than our usual thinking on zoning and land-use issues.
3. Looking back, is there anything you are most proud of that have seen in Easton? Any projects or actions you voted on that you are proud of?
I am very pleased that we have a new agricultural commission and a strong ordinance behind it. I am particularly pleased to have played a leading role in drafting the new ordinance.
4. In the same respect as the previous question, is there anything that you would have changed?
I wish I could waive a magic wand and change the outcome of the November 2011 election. I wish people in our town voted on the basis of candidates qualifications rather than party affiliation. We need the best people available to manage town governments responsibilities and budgets. We do not always get that when one party has an overwhelming voter-registration advantage. The result is that Easton is sometimes deprived of the services of the better candidate and diversity in town government.
5. What do you want to say to the residents of Easton as we embark on another year?
Easton is a fine place to live and we are fortunate to make our homes here. For it to be even better, we have to support the role the public sector plays in our community. Our schools, library, parks, seniors, emergency services, etc. cannot do their jobs without our support. The public sector is not all it takes to make a great community, but it is an important component. Accordingly, we should acknowledge that taxes are worth paying because they are essential to providing us with top quality public services.
Another ingredient is voting the person not the party Also, we need to focus on more than the next crisis or the next budget, and focus instead on what we want Easton to be like in five, 10, 20 years from now.
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