June 15, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
For the first time in the town's nearly 400-year history, Town Meeting voters will wear face masks and be seated more than the now-required six feet apart -- in contrast to the usual congenial conversations among friends, neighbors, and other attendees -- due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Waving from a distance will be the status quo this year!
Town officials are working hard to ensure that all goes smoothly. Town Meeting 2020 will be held outdoors on the Hingham High multi-purpose field Saturday, June 20. Be sure to arrive early (registration begins at 12:30 p.m.) to ensure the required 300 quorum is reached before the 2 p.m. start time. And no heels, please! -- to avoid damage to the turf field. The raindate is June 21 at the same time.
(NOTE: This Thursday, June 18, at 7 p.m. the Selectmen will consider an adjustment to this year’s quorum requirements.)
"We remain committed to running this event as safely and efficiently as possible," said Town Administrator Tom Mayo. "The check-in process will be contact-free, attendees will be seated 10 feet apart, and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the venue."
Town Meeting warrants have been mailed to every Hingham household, providing information on the 38 warrant article. Voters will decide whether to support, among other requests:
⦁ a $126.5 million town budget, including $58 million for the schools;
⦁ up $250,000 for a feasibility study and conceptual design documents for a proposed new public safety facility on Lincoln Street;
⦁ up to $525,000 for architectural, engineering, and other services related to site design for renovations to the senior center and the space currently occupied by the police department, both located at Town Hall;
⦁ up to an additional $350,000 for a feasibility study of Foster School related to possible partial reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority for major renovations or a new school;
⦁ several Community Preservation Act articles related to the potential purchase of the historic Benjamin Lincoln House; funds to repair the Plymouth River tennis courts; restoring the gravestones at the Canterbury Cemetery; design and construction documents for a new South Shore Country Club pool; and funds to restore the tower clock faces at Second Parish Church on Main Street.
⦁ modifying the size of the new water system's citizen advisory board to include an additional Hull resident, for a total of two. Hingham will have three representatives and Cohasset one. (The water system serves Hingham, Hull, and part of Cohasset. The transition from Aquarion Water Company to town ownership is expected to take place around July 31);
⦁ up $2.7 million to pay for the cost of designing, engineering, constructing, repairing, and improving the Weir River Water System (the new name once Hingham assumes ownership);
⦁ up to $300,000 to fund an independent review of existing municipal and school facilities and estimating the general costs of the recommended options;
⦁ up to $2.2 million for the design and construction of a new South Shore Country Club maintenance facility, with the Club responsible for the total cost of the building, paid for with golf revenues.
⦁ two citizens' petitions -- one related to the proposed expansion of Hingham Cemetery off South Street, and the other to support the creation of a tree preservation by-law that encourages the preservation of trees on private property where significant demolition or construction is occurring by amending the town's general by-laws.
Voters have the final say on all the articles. Check your warrant book with the eye-catching purple cover for full details, including the Advisory Committee's recommendations.
In response to a few concerns that have been expressed related to the expected high temperatures, the advice from Town Hall is to prepare for Town Meeting as you would for any other outdoor event in June -- wear light, comfortable clothing and bring hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, personal umbrellas for shade, and a water bottle.
"We will set up a cooling station with misters near the restrooms and will have water stations throughout the area," Mayo said. "We are also in the process of securing some tents to cover a section of seating at the back of the field to provide additional shade and protection from the heat."
In addition to heels not being allowed on the turf field, it's recommended that attendees wear closed-toe shoes because the surface can get hot.
Visit https://www.hingham-ma.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=811 to view "Outdoor Meeting Framework for 2020 Annual Town Meeting."
Don't forget to bring your warrant. See you there!