Westport Town Meeting date set — July 21 at White's

Posted 6/28/20

Westport will hold its delayed Town Meeting on Tuesday, July 21, the Board of Selectmen decided Monday.

And the board also confirmed its earlier decision to hold that meeting at White's of …

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Westport Town Meeting date set — July 21 at White's

Posted

Westport will hold its delayed Town Meeting on Tuesday, July 21, the Board of Selectmen decided Monday.

And the board also confirmed its earlier decision to hold that meeting at White's of Westport rather than at Westport High School where it typically is located, or at an outdoor location such as the Westport Fair pavilion or a Westport High School ballfield.

Only two dates made sense, selectmen had already decided — July 21 and July 28. And July 28 was eventually viewed as the less attractive of the two because it leaves no time to regroup should some last-minute complication arise. The state has approved town meeting postponements through July but there are no approved options (so far anyway) beyond July to set town budgets and do other vital town meeting business.

Asked if he feels July 21 provides enough time to make preparations, Town Health Director Matt Armendo replied, yes, he thinks there should be plenty of time to make necessary health and safety arrangements.

Town Moderator Steve Fors agreed, “as long as we can get started real soon.”

The vote for June 21 was unanimous.

Earlier in the meeting, Mr. Fors had held out the possibility of an outdoor alternative to White's.

A number of Massachusetts towns have successfully held outdoor town meetings, he told selectmen, and the Massachusetts Moderators Association, which he chairs, endorses outdoor town meetings, in part because it is generally held that outdoor meetings are safer than indoor meetings.

But selectmen stuck with their decision to use White's, citing its large capacity, air conditioning, sound system, use of round tables rather than rows of chairs, and multiple access points.

“I suspect it would be double the money to do it in a field,” said Steve Ouellette — you'd need to hire staff (White's would provide staff as part of the $1,000 room rental), provide porta-potties, and then there is “the comfort factor depending on the weather, mosquitos, ticks …

“I just think it makes so much more sense to have it at White's.”

Mr. Fors said it will be important for White's to understand that the town would be running the show. Town Meeting “is not like a function that they normally do. The town has to completely take over that space.”

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