Published on April 6th, 2014 | by Grant Sanders4
Nantucket Town Meeting Snarky Recap.
Ah, it’s Spring on Nantucket (or a reasonable facsimile) and that means Town Meeting has come and gone. Here’s a re-cap of the action on Saturday, April 5 at the Mary Walker Pendelton Auditorium.
There was a short discussion on Article 10 concerning the purchase of new trash cans. Some of which were those newfangled solar-powered compacting trash cans. Yes, I know they are not in keeping with our 17th century whaling village look and feel, but let’s face it, when trash cans overflow, neither is the trash that spills out over our streets. The objection to new trash cans was voted down.
The Community preservation act funding was called into question (article 30) when a concerned citizen brought up the fact that a church (gasp) was getting money from the town to make it’s sidewalks and walkways more accessible. Also, someone called into question the use of CPC funds to help the Land Council keep 94 acres of FAA land open and wild. Both objections made moot by votes against them.
Article 33 was called which asked town meeting to affirm that 30% of our room occupancy tax goes to Visitors services. Town meeting said yes. But it’s really up to the town’s administration to decide and the vote was non-binding. Good luck with that Visitors’ Services. Some good quotes in this debate, however, including a woman who underscored the importance of spending funds to “lock up tourists when they’re too drunk to find their cars.” Reality is often funnier than fiction.
Article 34 was called but the town did not vote to buy the Eagan properties abutting dead horse valley. Please build something nice there, developers. Thanks for playing.
Article 48 and 47 came up for discussion. This was the measure to change zoning and allow big-box retail stores on old south road. The developer, seeing the writing on the wall decided to try to pull the article in hopes of getting more public support for the Fall or next ATM (why am I seeing a snowball melting in hell in my mind’s eye?), but Adam Reed, selectman candidate tried to pull a fast one and get them banned from town meeting for two years. His ploy was so ham-fisted that even Linda Williams, the grand dame of ATM grand-standing saw it as grand-standing and said so, eliciting irony-fueled tittering throughout the hall. Mr. Reed’s motion was voted down and the electorate ultimately decided to take no action. So the dream of a suburban big-box retail play land on Old South Road is still alive (albeit barely given the fact that even the motion to postpone indefinitely did not even lose by 2/3rds — too many peeps just don’t like this idea — including this writer).
Article 75 (a parking amendment) was called but quickly passed by unanimous voice vote.
At lunch I had a nice chat with two selectmen and a former selectman. The veggie chili was excellent.
After lunch we debated article 77, which asked that the town warrant be printed in plain English. Selectman Bob DeCosta got up and said something stupid about how “convey” and “sell” were the same thing and if you don’t know that maybe it’s time to learn, which was quickly and only slightly sarcastically corrected by former Selectman Michael Kopko and tweeted by Jason Gaziadei. Good times. In the end, Plain English did not win out.
After a couple of called articles that resulted in no changes to the basic fabric of the universe we came to Article 80, which sought to make the Town Manager an elected position. The. Stupidest. Idea. Ever. I got up and said so. As did others. The word “odious” was used. The article failed with only a couple of people saying aye. Way in the back. Thanks for trying, guys.
Article 87 was passed. It sought to change the make-up of the HDC from an elected board to a partially elected and partially appointed board. A good compromise? We shall see. Article 88, which sought to make the HDC completely appointed was quickly squashed by the voters.
Article 90, after much wrangling and re-writes behind the scenes was approved by voters. It asked the Selectmen to look into allowing new town employees to have a choice of retirement plans, which could help reduce the burden of unfunded liabilities in the area of healthcare and pensions. I think most of it went over the ovters heads, but they voted for it anyway, once the verbiage was made simple and understandable. Nice.
A few articles in the 90s were called but technical amendments were allowed by the voters and passed easily with little debate.
The last real discussion of the day centered around keeping a few lots on town land just off of Fairgrounds Road as affordable lots. Susan Bennett-Witte proposed an excellent amendment to article 101 and the voters saw wisdom in it after a few people spoke. People with hyphenated names are often smarter than the average person. It’s a scientific fact.
Article 103 (land acquisition in Madaket) was called but no one really wanted to debate it after some technical amendments were made, the Planning Board’s recommendation was affirmed by he voters.
And that was it. Seven hours. Governtainment at its best.
If you really want to get the sense of the meeting, check out the hashtag #ACKatm2014 on twitter. It’s a hoot.