Andover Officials Planning Another Outdoor Town Meeting

·2 min read

ANDOVER, MA — Andover will likely hold its annual town meeting outdoors again this year, town officials said Monday at the Select Board meeting.

The Board voted to set one of two Saturday afternoons in June as the date for the meeting, enabling another outdoor meeting in a tent.

This will be the town's third consecutive town meeting driven outdoors by the coronavirus.

"Come May, this current covid experience may well be a thing of the past," Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said. "But there will be people who are not comfortable being part of a large gathering outdoors."

Flanagan said residents have "seemed to accept and even enjoy" the outdoor setting over the last two years, and the town can use federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to offset the costs of holding the meeting outdoor.

Officials voted to hold the meeting in the afternoon, rather than the morning, so as to not conflict with Jewish sabbath services in the morning.

Town Moderator Sheila Doherty said that she received a letter from a rabbi in town about the conflict last year.

"Last year I felt very uncomfortable with it, but we had such a huge agenda, such a huge warrant, that we couldn't start it later," she said.

Resident Michael Silverman spoke during the public comment period to point out the conflict as well, asking officials to consider a "more inclusive date and time." In 2021, Silverman noted, at least one vote came down to a very narrow margin.

The Select Board voted unanimously for a Saturday, June 4th afternoon meeting, with June 11th as a backup date if there were conflicts; Flanagan said he would report back to the Board within a few days on any issues with the June 4th option. In either case, the meeting could continue the following day if need be.

The motion did not include a specific start time.

The full meeting is available here from AndoverTV.

Christopher Huffaker can be reached at 412-265-8353 or chris.huffaker@patch.com.

This article originally appeared on the Andover Patch

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