Town Meeting postponed to unknown date
Town Meeting, originally scheduled for October 26, will be postponed for at least 30 days.
The decision was made by Town Moderator Claire Smith, in collaboration with the Board of Selectmen, Town Administrator Derek Sullivan, Health Agent Bob Ethier, Police Chief John Walcek, and other officials, and announced at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.
Smith said that she felt she couldn’t safely hold the meeting on October 26, and doesn’t want to put residents in a position where they had to potentially risk their health to participate in Town Meeting.
“We’ve gone from green to yellow, and I just have a feeling that it’s not going to get better, it’s going to get worse. I don’t want to risk putting people in a room and having something blossom,” Smith said.
Under the emergency order granted by the state, Smith has the authority to postpone the meeting for thirty days at a time. She has an unlimited number of extensions until the end of the state of emergency in Massachusetts, at which point the meeting would have to be held within thirty days.
Smith said that she is considering holding the meeting during the schools’ winter vacation.
She said that she and other officials considered other options, including hosting the meeting on the football field or as a drive-up, but each option had its own set of problems.
This Town Meeting has several high-interest warrant articles that are likely to draw a crowd, including naming (or re-naming) the new elementary school, rezoning downtown, changing the Town Charter, and a $9 million sewer project.
The spring Town Meeting, which was postponed until mid-June, was held in the high school gym. That meeting covered only financial articles, and drew about 100 people. The high school gym and auditorium could only hold about 200 people while maintaining social distancing, and it’s likely that the upcoming Town Meeting would draw a significantly larger crowd than that.
Sullivan said that the town can continue to function financially even if the meeting is postponed. Selectman Patrick Tropeano said he hoped that when the meeting is scheduled, residents will have the chance to vote on all the articles on the warrant.