When the dust settled last Tuesday night at Laurel Ledge Elementary School, Beacon Falls voters had given their approval to two of three items on a proposed bond package.
The item that failed has got us feeling as if the town of Beacon Falls let a great chance slip through its fingers.
The item in question was $5.1 million to pay for road and sanitary sewer main improvements, plus the purchase of Benedetti recycled hot emulsified asphalt treatment equipment, for the reclaiming of town roads.
It was the Benedetti equipment that caught our eye prior to the referendum.
To sum it up briefly, this equipment digs up to three inches of asphalt off a road, adds an additive to the ground up asphalt and then reapplies it to the road, all in one step.
According to town officials, Beacon Falls would have been the first municipality in Connecticut to own such equipment—opening the door to potentially renting this equipment to other towns throughout the state and turning it into a revenue source.
We believe this equipment would have provided the town with a cost-effective and innovative alternative to the current practice of hiring private contractors to reclaim town roads.
Alas, the majority of voters who made their way to Laurel Ledge last week didn’t agree with us—as is their right.
We can see why this item wasn’t approved. It’s difficult enough to ask people for money during good economic times, let alone $5.1 million in troubled times for equipment that no municipality in Connecticut has used before.
However, even in troubled economic times the opportunity to make a wise investment that would pay dividends down the road should not be passed up.
Whenever making a financial decision whether it is a personal, business or public one, the pros should be weighed versus the cons. In the case of this bond item we believe, the pros-equipment that will pay for itself over time, lower costs to improve roads and the potential for raising revenue-outweighed the cons-possibly borrowing $5.1 million and slowly paying to repair roads through the town budget.
Fortunately, this is not an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Benedetti equipment isn’t going anywhere.
We urge Beacon Falls officials to continue pursuing this equipment through grants or partnering with surrounding towns-as they would have done even if the item was approved.
It’s not often in life that an opportunity is anything more than fleeting, and this is one that Beacon Falls shouldn’t let pass it by.