ANDOVER, MA — Andover's annual town meeting will take place outside on Sept. 12, Town Clerk Austin Simko said in a news release, Friday.
Months after originally planned, the 2020 town meeting will take place at 9:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 12, in the field behind West Middle School on Shawsheen Road.
"The moderator and town staff have worked diligently to plan a Town Meeting that protects the safety of attendees while preserving the quality community deliberation that defines Andover’s town meetings," Simko said. "We believe this will be a town meeting that Andover residents can be proud of."
The town meeting was originally scheduled for April 27 but was postponed due to the coronavirus. The town operated on 1/12th budgets in the absence of a Fiscal Year 2021 budget vote, while the town moderator waited for local conditions to improve.
The delay also allowed town officials to revise budget plans: state officials committed to level funding local aid, enabling recommended operating budgets to return to pre-pandemic levels.
The meeting will be held under a large tent and attendees will be required to observe social distancing, according to the release. Couples can sit together, but otherwise attendees will be seated at least 6 feet apart. There will be four check-in locations at the tent's four corners, to prevent crowding.
Masks will be strongly recommended, and provided to those who do not bring their own. Anyone who does not wear a mask will be seated in a separate section.
Food and drink will be permitted; attendees will be asked to throw trash away or take it with them after the meeting.
Town Manager Andrew Flanagan is planning to host a pre-meeting virtual forum, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. Town department heads will present information on all meeting articles and answer questions. Details are not yet available on the forum. The Finance Committee's report will also be mailed to every household by Sept. 2.
"Upon request, sign language interpreters, material on tape, and other auxiliary aides and services will be provided to ensure effective communications as specified in the Americans with Disabilities Act. To request assistance, please contact the Town’s ADA Coordinator at 978-623-8500," according to the release. "Questions about the Annual Town Meeting may be directed to the Town Clerk’s Office at 978-623-8230."
Christopher Huffaker can be reached at 412-265-8353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.