Basketball sets the pick at Davis Park
“It might not be the perfect spot, but the kids don’t care. Let’s get something started. If we can go bigger and better down the road, it’s going to cost you nothing. It’s all going to be fundraised money. We’ll tear it down and you can build something else. It’s nothing out of your pocket. Give the kids a place to play ball.”
Todd Wheeler expressed that sentiment at last week’s Bethel Town Meeting just before voters easily approved a new basketball court - on the Davis Park site where a dog park was originally proposed.
Wheeler had circulated a petition this spring to build the court, should the dog park proposal be defeated at town meeting.
And it was, easily.
Last week’s debate over the park vs. the court lasted almost an hour and continued through the three warrant articles that addressed the issue.
Selectmen had established a special committee to come up with an overall recreational facilities plan to include both a dog park and a basketball court. One warrant article asked that selectmen be authorized to accept donations for the projects.
But it was defeated, along with an amendment that would have brought the committee plan back to voters for approval.
Jarrod Crockett was sympathetic to finding a diplomatic solution but, he said, putting off building a basketball court for another year while the committee worked wasn’t necessary.
He said that as a state legislator, he knows what “death by committee” means.
“At some point we need to do something,” he said. “We can’t sit on our hands and do nothing.”
Loretta Holt said she would favor a dog park on donated private land, but public land “should be about our children, our community and our aging citizens. Our children have got to come first.”
She also said one of her relatives had wondered about the need for a dog park, commenting ‘this whole town is a dog park.’”
Jackie Cressy worried about the big picture.
She said that without an overall plan, Davis Park could end up with “some-thing here, something there,” likening the pro-gression to the evolution of a strip mall.
Selectman Don Bennett said he had misgivings about the appropriateness of the site, located behind Dunkin Donuts on Route 2, for either facility.
After Bennett’s comments Wheeler said it was time to move forward with the basketball court – a project for which he said he had been seeking a site for some time.
“This didn’t just pop up. I’ve been looking for over four years now,” he said.
At the end of the meeting Edie Okenquist, a member of the Recreational Facili-ties Committee, moved to reconsider the article that would have allowed selectmen to accept funds toward a multiple-facility plan.
But the motion failed.