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Officials Spar in Easton Over Map Grant

EASTON, Conn. – Once again the Easton town clerk and the first selectman are butting heads, and this time it’s about a possible Geographic Information Systems plan.

The Board of Selectmen last month unanimously approved signing onto an application for a $6 million grant with the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council to cover the cost of upgrading GIS systems and making it available online for six towns, including Easton.

These GIS systems, according to First Selectman Thomas Herrmann, would include topographical information on such items as property lines, road surveys, town borders and the location of fire hydrants. The purpose of the plans, he said, is to help identify areas for zoning officials and public safety officers.

“This allows us the opportunity to see individual plans and to define town borders,” Herrmann said.

During a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, Herrmann said that if it were to become a reality, the system would most likely be used solely by town officials. And because it comes from a grant it would be at no cost to taxpayers, he said.

But Town Clerk Derek Buckley disputes this. In a letter to Herrmann on the application, Buckley says that if the system were to be available to the public, for free, it could cost the town thousands of dollars. “Easton derives revenue of about $13,000 annually from sales of copies of maps and land records. Work is in progress to more than double that soon. That would be lost if the GIS makes them available for free,” Buckley wrote.

He also wrote, “About $50,000 has been raised recently from grants from individuals, foundations and civic organizations to update systems and softwares. Easton would have to bear that cost directly in [the] future, if GBRC takes over.”

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