POLITICS

Town Meeting Format: Officials Respond To Concerns Raised In Survey

By Kristen Arute, Updated: June 4, 2020

Layout for Town Meeting from Town of Hingham website

On Saturday, May 29th, the Hingham Current sent out a survey about Town Meeting, and we asked our readers for feedback.  In an announcement on the Town of Hingham website Wednesday night, town officials responded and addressed many of the issues that were raised in the survey. 

Here's a quick summary of what our readers had to say.  Only 13% said they had planned on attending Town Meeting on June 20th at 2:00 p.m.  Half were undecided, and 38% said they would not be attending.  Some people told us that their own health issues were a determining factor.

The change in location from indoors to outdoors on the high school football field did not impact the decision, either positively or negatively, of more than 1/3 of those who responded.  One fourth said that this new venue might make them more likely to attend, while 41% said it might make them less likely to attend.  Almost 1/4 of responders said that the change in venue would make them MUCH LESS likely to attend Town Meeting.

 

The TOP 4 concerns expressed by those surveyed were: attending a large public meeting, standing in a long line to check in, high temperatures and wearing a mask for 4 or more hours.  Below is the list of 15 concerns from the survey with the corresponding guidelines from the Town:  

  1. Attending a large public meeting (500-1500 people) – Please bring your own face covering. Face coverings must cover each attendee’s nose and mouth and fit snugly against the side of the face. Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the venue.

  2. Standing in a long line to check in – All Town Meeting attendees and staff must wear a face covering for the entire Town Meeting, including while waiting in line to register

  3. Proper social distancing – Individual seats will be spaced apart by a 10 ft. radius – 4 ft. more than the required 6 ft. as an extra precaution.  Seats will be organized into sections facing the visitors’ bleachers with a 20 ft. aisle separating each section.

  4. Wearing a mask for 4 or more hours - Please bring your own face covering. Face coverings must cover each attendee’s nose and mouth and fit snugly against the side of the face.

  5. Safe access to bathrooms – Attendees will be able to access restrooms in the field house via the southwest gate of the multipurpose field. Restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized as needed.

  6. High temperatures (average temperature is 78 degrees) – We encourage attendees to wear sunscreen and bring their own water, hats, and/or personal umbrellas for shade.  A cooling station will be available near the restrooms.

  7. No tent for shade – We encourage attendees to wear sunscreen and bring their own water, hats, and/or personal umbrellas for shade.  A cooling station will be available near the restrooms.

  8. Being outside for 4 or more hours – We encourage attendees to wear sunscreen and bring their own water, hats, and/or personal umbrellas for shade.  A cooling station will be available near the restrooms.

  9. Proper hydration - Several water stations (tables with pre-filled cups and trash cans) will be set up throughout the multi-purpose field.

  10. Ability to see and hear speakers – There will be no screen set up at Town Meeting this year, which means that no live PowerPoint presentations will be possible. Printed handouts for any presentation along with a copy of the Town Warrant and Annual Town Report will be placed in a folder on each attendee’s chair prior to the start of the meeting.

  11. Attendees having to share a microphone – Microphones will be set up at various points on the field for attendees to use to address Town Meeting. Staff will sanitize microphones after each use.

  12. ADA compliance

  13. Adequate parking – Parking will be available at three lots at the High School: the front parking lot, back parking lot (behind the building), and the far parking lot (down Union Street on the other sides of the fields).  There will be no shuttle transportation provided this year.  The Police Department will work on a more detailed traffic and parking control plan for Town Meeting, including designating handicapped spots closest to the northeast and northwest multipurpose field entrances.

  14. Walking on uneven terrain

  15. Sturdiness of seating

The full Town Meeting Outdoor Framework can be found here.

Kristen Arute can be reached at kristen@hinghamcurrent.com.