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Terre Haute: Bethel takes a new look at vast property
As appeared in the News Times 09-24-02

At first glance, it seems rather odd. Bethel has ordered up a new map of the Terre Haute property because, according to First Selectman Judy Novachek, “we must identify what we actually own.”

Just two years ago, Novachek and other Bethel officials were claiming to know all that needed to be known about Terre Haute — so much so that they knew a publicly funded golf course should be built there.

Fortunately, the voters took a more thoughtful approach to the proposal. When it came time for a referendum on the $11.8 million golf course, a strong majority of the voters said NO.

Since then, Bethel has remained at odds over what to do with town-owned Terre Haute. So perhaps a new map and a new study of what’s there will be useful in encouraging a town conversation on the property.

Bethel’s neighbors will be interested in what happens, too. Unlike its neighbors, Bethel has not taken much of an interest in preserving wild spaces. Terre Haute’s proximity to protected lands in other communities makes it an ideal candidate for protection - as does its natural beauty, its proximity to water resources and its mountainous terrain.

There is enough land — more than 400 acres — to allow other uses while protecting much of the property from development. As Bethel takes another look at Terre Haute, it should do so with care — something that didn’t happen last time.

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