Letter: Solar panel project was a costly decision


 To the editor,

Flashback to the fall 2017/winter 2018 on Lopus Road in Beacon Falls. The once beautiful, prime piece of real estate between the Beacon Falls Public Works Department and the Beacon Falls sewage treatment plant is now filled with solar panels. When did this happen?

This property was previously used to dump brush and leaves and for short-term storage for extra materials, etc. With easy access from the town yard to move or load materials with heavy equipment, a better scenario never existed. If further expansion was needed for the sewage treatment plant, a site plan was already in place.

When the Board of Selectmen approved moving forward with the solar panels, the first plan had panels positioned around the perimeter with the entire side area open to store brush and leaves. Somehow, a new site plan covering the entire property with panels is brought to the attention of First Selectman Christopher Bielik and sent to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which approved the plan in November 2016. No public hearing, no referendum; a 20-year loss of crucial town property.

It gets better. A winter storm dumps heavy snow causing major branch destruction. Guess what? There’s no place to bring this brush. My cost alone exceeded $300 to haul it to Freezer Hill Mulch in Bethany.

Next, a freak tornado hits our town in May. All of this brush should have been dumped next to the town yard, saving the up to $300,000 approved to clean it up.

Now negotiations are underway with O&G Industries to lease property to dump brush and leaves, which could cost tens of thousands of dollars with possibly no town ownership after ten or 20 years. Costs to clear this land are part of the negotiations. Making a deal after scolding O&G for hauling material into town might not have been one of First Selectman Bielik’s best ideas.

Next, the town fireworks are canceled, in part, because of all the brush dumped at the Pent Road Recreation Complex instead of Lopus Road.

Officials estimated there was 15,000 cubic yards of debris littering the roads, and First Selectman Bielik also stopped the town crews from picking or chipping brush. Anyone know why the town purchased a new chipper?

First Selectman Bielik scheduled a vote to use up to $300,000 of the town’s rainy day fund to clean up debris with little public notice. Funny, enough yes votes knew about the meeting.

First Selectman Bielik’s attempt to conduct a fair hearing was a complete joke. Time limits were put into effect, shortchanging discussions to make valid points. I believe as a moderator, his constant interruptions and interference broke rules of public speech. His incompetence making crucial decisions, is lack of commons sense, his inability to let the town’s superintendent of public works and a crew perform their jobs without interference are all major reasons why First Selectman Bielik’s decision on solar panels could cost the town hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Remember taxpayers of Beacon Falls that property on Lopus Road is industrial zoned property with that price tag attached.

Promises made by First Selectman Bielik over the past year were broken. His promise to have a dump site opened by April 28, 2018, his refusal to set up a meeting one on one with me, and his numerous unreturned phone calls exhibit his incompetence to run this town.

This ludicrous and costly decision for solar panels calls for an explanation or a resignation.

Raymond J. Binkowski

Beacon Falls