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Herman "Herm" Bressler

Planning Chair
Ends Long Tenure

By Jeanne Sager
WHITE LAKE — October 14, 2005 – It took 44 years before it got too political for Herm Bressler.
The “Bluebird Man of Bethel” oversaw his last town planning board meeting Tuesday night, signing off after 44 years and four months of service.
For close to a decade, he was the chair of the board, a position he said he took with the proviso that planning not be political.
But a month ago, he said, a Town of Bethel councilman (whom, true to his vow not to get into politics, Bressler would not name) engineered a change on the planning board’s agenda.
“There was a rescheduling of a client onto a meeting that didn’t meet the time requirement,” Bressler explained. “It got him on the agenda ahead of other people who were refused.”
That was too much for Bressler, the White Lake resident who was there for the original Woodstock and the formation of Bethel Woods on the festival’s homesite, on the planning board for Steve Dubrovsky’s development of million-dollar homes and smaller subdivisions.
“I could go on and on and on,” he said, listing projects he’s watched go from the drawing board to reality.
“If they met our zoning and everything, they were approved, and it went from there,” Bressler said. “I maintain planning is for everybody – not just a select few.”
Bressler was appointed in 1961 by Supervisor Chet Kinney, one of eight members chosen to forge the new Town of Bethel Planning Board.
“Most of them are deceased,” Bressler said.
A resident of the town since 1954, he said he got involved out of an interest in the place where he lived, pride in his town.
His latest appointment came from the town board and was expected to carry him through until 2008.
Instead the planning board will hold a special meeting on Oct. 26 to select two new members – one resident to fill Bressler’s shoes and another to fill a vacancy left by Tim Dollard’s resignation (which Town of Bethel Supervisor Vicky Simpson said was due to his job, not related to Bressler’s move).
The town board will meet the following evening to review the planners’ recommendations and officially appoint two new members.
The election of a new chairman will be done by the planning board itself.
Simpson said this is a sad day for the Town of Bethel.
“[Bressler’s] so well respected and so knowledgeable,” she said. “It’s going to leave a gap there . . . to lose somebody who is so full of wisdom of the history of this town, you don’t replace that overnight.
“We’re all going to miss him a great deal,” she said.
Finding a replacement, preparing for change in the Town of Bethel, isn’t the issue, she added.
“The issue is losing a man of his caliber.”
Simpson said people were lining up to say goodbye Tuesday evening – no one could let his departure go unnoted.
But Bressler was in great spirits, Simpson said – it was as though the weight of responsibility had been lifted from his shoulders.
“It’s time for a change,” Bressler said simply.
Simpson said the matter which prompted Bressler’s resignation is “something that’s already been dealt with.”

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