BETHEL —  Selectmen and town managers from Bethel, Greenwood, Newry and Woodstock met recently to discuss ways they can work together to improve the region and save money.

The nearly two-hour meeting at the Telstar High School library was facilitated by Amy Scott, executive director of CORE, a nonprofit organization that unites member organizations and local citizens to cultivate and engage in a thriving community.

“We have to find something that is going to bring the four towns together,” Selectman Shawn Coffin of Woodstock said.

“If we want our area to stay the same we have to work together,” Woodstock Town Manager Vern Maxfield said. “I think there’s a lot we can accomplish. We can work together on solid waste, recreation and things along the lines of that.”

“We’re connected in a lot of ways,” Selectman Jim Largess of Newry said.

A good place to start collaborating is infrastructure, with a specific focus on transportation, Selectman Ron Deegan of Woodstock said.

“If I look at the big picture here, if we’re going to be able to accept this influx of tourism, we need to begin with infrastructure first, that’s the foundation,” Deegan said. “We need to take a look at transportation infrastructure.”

Coffin agreed.

Deegan suggested a bus system could lessen the impact of traffic on area roads. He also thought the towns might be able to collaborate on fuel use and explore possible ways to save money.

“The low-hanging fruit for me is solid waste,” Largess said.

“I think that the transfer station is a good place to start, too,” Coffin said. “If we’re looking for a binding thing, then this could be it.”

“Trash makes total sense because it impacts everybody,” Newry Town Administrator Amy Bernard said.

“One of the things we need to talk about, too, is developing a four-town plan together,” Scott said. “We can talk about these low-hanging fruit ideas, and possibly work toward ways to achieve things.”

Scott jotted down a list of items the town officials could potentially purchase together, such as fuel, hot top, paving, sand, tires and office supplies.

“It would take the practice of trying some things together at first,” Scott said. “It would take some research and resources to even get there,”

As a starting point, she suggested looking at other areas that have created regional plans.

“If the four towns are going to move forward, we need to find something that is concrete, something to get the ball rolling,” Largess said.

“There’s a lot of experience and knowledge in this group that could benefit the whole region,” Selectman Pete Southam of Bethel said.

The officials will meet again at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, at the Telstar High School library on Route 26 in Bethel.




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