July 21, 2018

Senator Daily expresses gratitude for recent meeting on Chester Ferry

To the editor:

I write in praise of the estimated 150 area residents present at the December 16 meeting at the Hadlyme Public Hall to consider future prospects for the Chester-Hadlyme ferry. I was struck by the civil, respectful tone at a gathering with so much potential for emotional flare-ups and reckless rhetoric.

The issue pits the continuance of an historic – even iconic – regional transportation link against the need to reconsider every single aspect of state spending in the face of a daunting projected budget deficit. The state Department of Transportation, working to trim its costs by 15 percent, included the ferry on a list of proposed cuts. So the viability of a 240-plus years old transportation asset, that generated $106,302 last fiscal year but cost $338,706, is under intense scrutiny.

With so many fresh memories of ‘Tea Party’ and ‘tax and spend’ labels bandied about during this fall’s campaigns and with so much partisan bickering now masking as ‘debate’ at the Capitol, it was uplifting to hear one speaker after another calmly and rationally make his or her case for the ferry. Those of us present learned some fascinating family history specific to Hadlyme and the ferry.

Area residents underscored the inconvenience of traveling north or south to the nearest bridges, they reasserted the ecological advantages of the local crossing, and they described the draw of the ferry as a vital part of the local economy. And they did so without making accusations, pointing fingers, or calling names. State officials reiterated the need to bridge a budget gap measured in billions of dollars while also acknowledging the residents’ strong desire to maintain the ferry operation.

It struck me that such level-headed discourse really ought to characterize all meetings of this nature and such thoughtful dialogue is the manner in which issues should always be considered. It reminded me that in my experience as a public official, this really is the only way compromise is reached and progress made.

The residents of the 33rd District routinely make me proud to represent our area in the General Assembly and last Thursday night’s meeting gave further evidence of their penchant for doing so.

Sincerely,

Eileen M. Daily
State Senator – 33rd District

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