Forty open space proponents packed council chambers. Twenty spoke. Nature Boy, a regular commenter, has asked me to identify these people. They've actually been disparaged by another blogger, who is incredibly a Democratic committeeman. "Meetings are filled with people with their own agenda, speaking their talking points, and spreading their 'facts.' " He even states that "open space advocates are an interest group."
So let me introduce you to the "special interest" group spreading these biased "facts." My spelling is phonetic so some names may not be right. I apologize for any misspelled names.
Susan Lear of Bushkill argued that Stoffa's open space plan is a "critical part" of a local effort in which she is involved. Her sentiments were echoed by Mike Toping and Bill Mineo.
Bill Sweeney from the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources indicated the state was prepared to match county contributions in a big way. Sherri Yasavedo, also with the state's DCNR, claimed the state has already committed to a $1.5 million match this year and has agreed to more contributions over the next three years.
Sandra Yerger and Tom Maxfield are Lower Saucon Township Supervisors who spoke of their own referendum for open space, which passed with 66% of the vote. "The land is either going to go away or become more expensive. " Jason Smith, a Bushkill Township supervisor, echoed those sentiments.
Robert Doerr, a Williams Township supervisor, pointed out that Williams Township, through its tax increase, has already raised $3 million for open space. He declared Stoffa's plan the best one proposed. He was joined by Jerry Steele, the chair of Williams Township preservation board, who warned we are "being circled by corporate developers."
On behalf of both the Lehigh Valley League of Women Voters and Green Valley Coalition, Joyce Mosey characterized Stoffa's plan as "excellent." That's how Roger Hudak feels, too. He chairs Bethlehem's South Side Task Force.
Landowner John Horth was there to talk about the historical value of his proprty. Sherri Darr from Washington Township was also on hand to voice her support. Her special interest is that of concerned citizen. Dixie White, a county employee, supports Stoffa's plan, too. And Ann Gerin of our local wildlands conservancy was the final special interest council heard.
These special interests, if you want to call them that, consist mostly of municipal officials elected by the people to represent their views. In my view that's a pretty powerful special interest, and I'm glad they were on hand to enlighten council.