BETHEL — Voters at Wednesday night’s annual town meeting overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to construct a dog park at Davis Park and instead voted to approve a basketball court at the same site.

The push for a dog park and a basketball court began last summer, after selectmen authorized Doar to appoint Steve Wight of Newry to represent a dog park planning committee and present a plan to the Planning Board.

Shortly after Wight’s plan was approved by the Planning Board, a petition was submitted asking for the construction of a basketball court at Davis Park — the same site that Wight was pursuing for a Bethel dog park.

Article 5 asked voters if a dog park should be constructed at Davis Park using donated funds, while Article 6 asked voters if a basketball court should be built at Davis Park if the Bethel dog park is not approved.

Prior to the vote on Articles 5 and 6, voters overwhelmingly shot down Article 4, which asked whether residents wished to authorize the Board of Selectmen to use cash donations in an effort to implement the recommendations of the Bethel Recreation Facilities Committee. That group would, according to Town Manager Jim Doar, “prepare a plan for recreational facilities at Davis Park, which may include, but not be limited to, basketball courts, tennis courts and a dog park.”

At the May 6 selectmen’s meeting, the board voted to appoint seven residents to the Bethel Recreation Facilities Committee, with Doar adding that they would also “detail necessary ancillary facilities, costs and permits necessary for implementation due to the Board of Selectmen no later than June 30, 2013.”


Jared Crockett said he initially supported Article 4, but worried about how long it would take for the committee to make a decision.

“I came here to get a basketball court, and we have a location and a place,” Crockett said. “It seems like we’d be pushing the vote off for another year if it went to committee. I mean, I know what ‘death by committee’ means.”

Nancy Brown told voters she would be voting yes to both the dog park and the basketball court.

“We need more than just a dog park and a basketball court in town,” she said. “We need an ice rink, and a baseball diamond. I’m going to say yes to both articles, which may seem contradictory, but the town could use it all.”

One resident said her 17-year-old daughter, upon hearing about the request for a dog park, asked, “Why do we need a dog park in Bethel? The whole town is a dog park,’” which drew laughter from the audience.

“From the mouths of babes,” the resident said. “My daughter said we have all these beautiful fields and lawns. It just seems unnecessary.”


Voters subsequently shot down the dog park proposal and quickly voted to approve the basketball court.

The request for the basketball court began in March after resident Jarrod Crockett told the board he had been contacted by parents interested in a basketball court, due to limited recreational facilities in town. Shortly after, resident Todd Wheeler began circulating a petition to get the question on the town meeting warrant.

In a letter to Doar, Wheeler cited reasons a basketball court would be more beneficial to the town than a dog park, including Bethel’s lack of recreational facilities, Davis Park’s proximity to parking and that the basketball court would not require rerouting a nearby snowmobile trail.

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