Select Board roundup: Health director works on camp openings; outdoor dining to be expanded

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Following is a roundup of news from Tuesday’s Select Board meeting.

Hopkinton Health Department director Shaun McAuliffe said while the town continues to be recognized as “one of the top-performing communities in the commonwealth” in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s concerned that people might be relaxing too quickly.

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“We continue to do well,” he said. “We’ve got 119 cases, eight of those are active, 98 recovered and 13 deaths. We have no active cases at Golden Pond and Fairview. Of the eight active cases, the illnesses are related to contact with a known COVID person at work or a social event, and within those cases there’s been some in-home spread.

“So it’s still out there. We need people to remain diligent, focus on hygiene, social distancing, face covering. … We need to refocus and make sure that we’re all committed to keeping Hopkinton healthy.”

McAuliffe said his department has been helping with the reopening process, which has been “daunting.”

“I think our biggest challenge moving forward is with the reopening plans that have been developed for all of the businesses, the offices, but now especially the camps, the school programs, Parks and Rec and the schools is a requirement to provide daily screening, monitoring and record keeping. So before each day, every employee, program participant and student will be required to submit a daily attestation that they have no temperature, they have no symptoms, they have no known exposures. We have to record all of that data, we have to manage the data, then we have to hold on to that data throughout the duration of the event.”

Added McAuliffe: “The Health Department is working specifically right at this moment with Parks and Rec to figure out how we can get them to as near as a sense of normal and get them open and operating so that they can help take some of the burden off the residents of Hopkinton to provide the children a safe day care or camp experience.”

Outdoor dining expansion supported

In an effort to help Hopkinton restaurants as they return to on-site dining, Town Manager Norman Khumalo asked the board to approve a plan to allow for additional outdoor seating, using parking lots, driveways and even sidewalks. This would allow restaurants to serve more customers while maintaining social distancing.

The Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee overwhelmingly supported the plan.

“I think that’s a great job of thinking outside the box and doing what we can to support our businesses in town,” Select Board chair Brendan Tedstone said. “I think it’s wonderful.”

Related to the plan, which was approved, the town might close the entrance to the back parking lot behind Bill’s Pizzeria (next to Town Hall) and make the current exit two-way so that the restaurant may use the closed driveway space for additional outdoor dining.

Town Election voting hours unchanged

The Select Board voted unanimously to keep the polls open during their normal hours, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., for the June 29 Town Election.

Town clerk Connor Degan had suggested limiting the voting hours to 12-8 p.m. following a recommendation from emergency personnel, who expressed concern that with the election taking place in the summer the heat could make it challenging for volunteers to work long shifts in the Hopkinton Middle School gymnasium. That, combined with the COVID-19 risk to the volunteers, many of whom are seniors, led to him Degan’s request.

However, the board expressed concern that voters might be confused by a change, especially with the election only four weeks away, and they did not want anyone to feel disenfranchised.

With a low turnout expected, and with about 600 residents already having submitted an application for a mail-in ballot and more expected in the next couple of weeks, the board suggested managing the volunteers to avoid having anyone work for too long at one time.

Hopkinton to hold own marathon?

Tim Kilduff, the executive director of the 26.2 Foundation, appeared before the board to introduce a plan he has been working on with Select Board vice chair John Coutinho. They would like to organize a 26.2-mile race within Hopkinton in early September to give local charity runners the opportunity to run an officially timed race and complete their fundraising goals for the Boston Marathon, which has gone virtual this year.

Kilduff noted that Hopkinton charities are expected to make well over $1 million from these runners.

“In order to help and support both the BAA and their idea of creating a virtual marathon, and providing an opportunity for our charities, I’d like to begin to float the idea of creating a 26.2-mile run within Hopkinton’s borders hopefully on September 14th or at least within the time frame of September 7th through the 14th, which is the BAA’s window [for runners to complete a marathon],” he said.

Tedstone suggested that Kilduff meet with the town manager and attempt to get on the agenda for the next meeting on June 16.

Library Foundation makes donation

A donation of $119,438 was made to the town by the Hopkinton Library Foundation, the third and final payment of the organization’s $1 million contribution raised over the past few years to help pay for the library renovation.

“It was a great project, a great team effort by everyone who has been involved with it for many years,” said Laura Barry, a member of the Hopkinton Library Foundation board of directors. “I’m just happy that we were able to fulfill our commitment.”

The Select Board lauded the foundation for its efforts and for the project in general.

“What a great investment,” John Coutinho said. “It absolutely is our crown jewel of the downtown.”

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