During Tuesday night’s Select Board meeting, Town Manager Norman Khumalo and board members indicated their preference that the Sept. 21 Town Meeting be a very short one.
Khumalo said he will recommend that proponents take no action on non-urgent articles on the warrant in order to limit the meeting to one night.
Member Brian Herr took it a step further, suggesting, “This Town Meeting should be about 20 minutes long, if at all possible,” with the focus on budgetary and emergency issues, “and everything else goes to [the next Town Meeting in] May.”
Vice chair Irfan Nasrullah concurred, although he noted, “We don’t know what’s coming in the spring, either,” with another wave of COVID-19 possible, especially if no cure or vaccine has been developed.
Khumalo said town officials are meeting weekly to devise a plan and are considering holding Town Meeting outside due to the pandemic that already has caused the meeting to be delayed twice (the original date was in May).
Tedstone noted that if it’s a windy day like Tuesday, “Social distancing is out the window.”
“If you’re upwind you could be 2 inches away from somebody and not be at risk of catching the virus, whereas if you’re downwind on a day like today you could be 30 yards and you could still catch the virus,” he said. “So it’s something to think about.”
Member Amy Ritterbusch suggested that the decision on the meeting format and schedule be made at least a month beforehand so people can understand the new procedures and how it’s going to work.
COVID cases trend younger
In his report to the board, Health Department director Shaun McAuliffe indicated more younger individuals are testing positive for COVID-19, leading to concerns that people are not being vigilant enough.
He said there have been 135 total cases in town, with three currently active. Two of the three new cases are people who recently returned from trips outside the state.
“Over the last month our confirmed and probable cases are trending younger,” he said. “We have observed positive cases returning from travel down South and out West. We took a look this morning at our probable cases. The average age of a probable case — those getting antibody tests or antigen tests — are 34. Forty-six percent of those are below the age of 29.
“What that’s suggesting is that, consistent with what is going on in the commonwealth in general, as people are traveling or coming back from college, people getting together at parties, gatherings, they’re just not being as careful — or at least that younger population is not being as careful. And that needs to be a focus. The governor, the DPH [Department of Public Health] and local boards in general are focused on messaging to that specific group.”
McAuliffe also noted that there will be testing tomorrow at Keefe Tech from 2-6 p.m., with results expected in a couple of days.
Board appointments confirmed
The Select Board made a number of board appointments. Unless noted, all terms expire June 30, 2023.
Nancy Stevenson, Eric Sonnett and John Pavlov will return as full members of the Historical Commission, with James Haskins and Stacy Spies to serve as associate members. Spies also will serve on the Historic District Commission.
Other appointments include Donna Deneen to the Council on Aging; Joseph Baldiga to the Lake Maspenock Weed Management Citizen Advisory Group (no term length); Geoffrey Rowland, Rebeka Hoffman and Donald Sutherland to the Sustainable Green Committee; Sue Kurys and John Palmer to the Tax Relief Committee along with treasurer/collector Christopher Heymanns; Liisa Jackson as the Parks & Recreation Commission nominee on the Trail Coordination and Management Committee; Chelsea Rockhold to the Youth Commission; Eli Post and Robert Snyder (full members) and Peter Johnson (alternate member) to the Upper Charles Trails Committee; Benjamin Campbell, Josiah Campbell, Michael Sutton, Scott Jurasek and Jane Moran as traffic constables; and William E. Picket Jr. as constable.
Marathon Pizza changes ownership, gets name change
The Select Board issued a common victualer license to Mamdouh Abdallah and Ayman Galtas of Hopkinton Food Inc., the new owners of Marathon Pizza on Main Street. The business will be renamed Royal Pizza.
Town survey underway
Khumalo reported that the town is working on a second community satisfaction survey, which is going out to a limited number of residents. The survey will be open to all interested residents at a later date.
“This is our second community satisfaction survey,” Khumalo said. “We are hoping that by conducting a second one we will now be able to start identifying trends in the community.”
He said he hopes to have results by the end of October.
Town gets budget boost from state
Khumalo reported good news on the budget side.
“At the end of last week we received a message from the governor’s office which alerted us that our local aid in Chapter 70 [targeted for schools] will be level-funded,” he said. “That represents a positive stream of about $2.5 million based on a line-by-line quick review that we have done so far.”
Early voting moves to Senior Center
Town clerk Connor Degan announced that, following a vote at the Board of Registrars meeting, early in-person voting for the Sept. 1 primaries will be held at the Senior Center. It’s normally held at Town Hall.
Degan said the situation would be reviewed again prior to the November election.