MARCH in Town From the Desk of Town Manager Libby Gibson.

What's up in Town Administration?

2021 Annual Town Meeting

As of March 29th, the Finance Committee was working to complete its motions to the Annual Town Meeting warrant articles. Planning Board motions are complete for the zoning articles. On Monday, April 5th, the Select Board, Finance Committee and Planning Board are scheduled to have a joint meeting at 4:00 pm to review any comments or questions about any of the motions. The Select Board is then scheduled to adopt any comments it may have on any of the motions at its April 14th meeting. The warrant will then be finalized, sent to the printer and the mailer and should arrive in voters’ mailboxes well before the June 5th Annual Town Meeting starts. Once finalized, it will also be posted on the Town’s website so that people may access it as soon as possible. Some of the warrant articles are contingent upon the passage of ballot questions. Those may be found at the very end of the 2021 Annual Town Meeting and Election warrant.

Reminder: Town Meeting will be outdoors this year, under tents and with electronic handheld voting devices (these are only for voters who are present at the Town Meeting) and without a projection screen. We will have to handle amendments and other issues the “old fashioned” way. We are also working on our outreach program for Town Meeting to get out as much information as we can as widely as we can in advance of the Town Meeting. You will most likely be hearing and/or seeing information on the local radio station, 97.7; NCTV; weekly Select Board and other public meetings and/or informational forums; e-newsletters; newspaper articles; social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Other activities with which Town Admin has been busy:

  • Summer planning: While vaccinations are well underway, it is unlikely that every single person who lives here or visits will be completely vaccinated by summer; or, even by fall. Most likely certain restrictions will remain in place throughout the summer – such as mask requirements, physical distancing, hand sanitization, gathering and occupancy restrictions. It is important to remember that even if YOU have been vaccinated, you still pose a risk to the unvaccinated. The long-term impacts of COVID are unknown, variants have been detected in the wastewater of the Island and it is necessary for safety protocols to remain in place. We are working on summer planning with respect to enforcement, education, outdoor dining, what activities will and will not be allowed. These issues will be reviewed with the Select Board at its meeting on April 7th. An Economic Task Force continues to meet and work on ways to assist businesses.
  • Parking: Barring any unforeseen complications, Valet Parking looks promising at the Candle Street location this summer. Parking restrictions that were temporarily relaxed last summer will be back in effect this summer. Parking is expected to be challenging this summer with an expected increase in visitors and seasonal residents, as well as outdoor dining on certain sidewalks with parking spaces not available, and at least a couple of streets are expected to be closed. Please review your options for getting into Town without a vehicle. We are working on the potential for an NRTA shuttle route designed for people who work downtown. More on this next month, hopefully.
  • Police Reform in Massachusetts: On December 31, 2020, “An Act Relative to Justice, Equity and Accountability in Law Enforcement in the Commonwealth” was enacted. This 139-page Act contains many requirements that Police Departments across the state are working to implement. Here on the Island, we have an internal group working on implementation planning, which includes the Police Chief, DEI Director, Human Resources Director and others. We are anticipating providing the Select Board with an update in May.
  • “Large Projects” Update to Select Board: At its meeting of March 24th, the Board received an update on several large projects which are either about to be underway, are underway or will be underway by fall. One of these is a Surfside Road area sewer project which is going to be disruptive to the area between Vesper Land and Miacomet Road from early April through the end of June. The Select Board approved the work to occur at night (4pm – 2am) in order to mitigate traffic disruption. Please be patient! There is no “good” time to get this necessary work done.
  • NOTE: we are painfully aware of the unsightly (to put it kindly) modular trailer located at 131 Pleasant Street. Had a Global Pandemic not occurred just as the trailer was moved to this location to address much-needed (at the time) meeting space and placed as originally planned Pleasant St Project webpage, most likely its presence would not be so much of an issue. However, it is there, landscaping plans are in the works, it is not expected to be in place permanently and we hope that once a Facilities Master Plan is completed (in progress now), we will be able to, with voter approval, implement that plan and consolidate Town offices at the 2 Fairgrounds Road campus.

Trending – Trash!

Please, keep your loads covered and do not litter! As we can all see, the roadsides are littered with masks, gloves, nip bottles, papers, Styrofoam, plastic bags and other materials that degrade the environment and appearance of the island. Some of this trash blows out of construction sites, some out of unsecured vehicles and some is clearly carelessly tossed along the road. I’d like to think that viewing this trash is unpleasant for all of us and it’s very easy NOT to litter. It should also be very easy for local businesses to help keep our island clean by picking up trash in their immediate areas and for construction sites to keep adjacent roadways and properties free from their debris. Meanwhile, from time to time, grab a trash bag when you are out for a walk and pick up! There are several areas that the DPW has established for roadside litter drop-offs. Thank you to all those who have taken advantage of the roadside litter drop-offs!

The Clean Team will start up soon at the end of April and the Nantucket Litter Derby is scheduled for April 17 & 18.


New and updated information for Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been added to the Town’s website in the month of March.

The second round of quarterly PFAS testing results for the Nantucket Natural Compost (co-compost) were received by the Town. On January 27, 2021, Waste Options Nantucket collected samples of three different materials for testing: (1) Nantucket Natural Compost (co-compost), (2) Reclaimed soils, and (3) Wastewater Treatment Facility dewatered sludge (residuals) per the MassDEP Approval of Suitability permit. The test reports and fact sheet are available for download on the Town’s PFAS/Solid Waste webpage located here.

A list of 32 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about PFAS is now available on the Town’s website. Information includes general information about PFAS, PFAS testing, and PFAS and public health. Click this link to see the FAQ list.

The PFAS Preliminary Assessment and Planning Approach Report, posted in February has been updated to correct an error in Table 6-1. A revised copy with an errata sheet can be downloaded here. If you prefer an easy to read, five-page fact sheet that summarizes this Report, it can be downloaded here. Additional information can be found at our PFAS webpage. If you have questions or you need additional information, please email pfas@nantucket-ma.gov or call 508-325-4171 ext. 1400.

Nantucket's Efforts to Stop COVID-19

From the Public Health Department: Why You Still Need to Wear A Mask

There are a lot of reasons, but let’s start with the big one:

There are significant signs that more virulent mutations of the COVID vaccine are becoming prevalent across the US. These variants spread faster and more efficiently than heirloom COVID, lingering in the air longer and spreading farther. The UK variant, in preliminary testing, spread 70% better than heirloom COVID. Social distancing and mask wearing were effective against it, but the models and behavior that we’ve been accustomed to for the last year will not protect against it. If you’ve successfully protected yourself against COVID so far, you’ve only dealt with the heirloom version. The same behaviors, even during the spring and summer months, may not be sufficient against the more virulent strains of COVID.

Not only are variants more likely to spread, there are several variants that have been confirmed to infect people who have already had COVID and should be immune to it. Similar variants show a worrying potential to compromise vaccine provided immunity. By not wearing masks, social distancing and minding exposure groups, we’re producing an environment that encourages the spread of variants through essentially breeding out the weaker heirloom variety of COVID, leaving only faster spreading or more dangerous variants.

Second, even heirloom COVID has killed over half a million Americans. These are excess deaths, that is deaths over and above statistically expected deaths from previous years. Risk of death for those with COVID is significantly above that for being bitten by a snake, for example. But because of the way our brains assess risk, we rarely need to tell people why they should back away from a rattlesnake in the same way we need to explain why wearing a mask is necessary.

Third, masks work. We have copious amounts of natural experiments demonstrating their effectiveness. Regions with mask mandates have shown lower rates of spread, fewer hospitalizations and deaths and reduced economic impact from mitigation efforts. Nations with early adoption of masks had shallower and shorter initial outbreaks, saw reduced second surges and significantly lower excess deaths and hospitalizations. Biophysical modeling of contagion show marked reduction of COVID transmission with all types of masks, from cloth to surgical.

Finally, the biggest potential danger from COVID may be its chronic and long term effects. Over two thirds of the members in a Clinical Microbiology and Infection journal study presented COVID symptoms for months after they no longer tested positive. Fully a third of COVID positive college football players developed enlarged hearts after their infection, both those with COVID symptoms and those who never had COVID symptoms. Sufficient numbers of people with no history of mental illness developed rapid onset psychosis, leading to at least one suicide. The health consequences of COVID will be unfolding around the world for a decade at least before we fully understand the potential for long term issues stemming from COVID infection.

So, wear your masks, social distance, consider your exposure groups and be careful. We’re only months from approaching herd immunity levels of vaccination. The next two months leading up to the summer season will determine how much community spread we’ll have during the summer months.

Remember, a healthy Nantucket starts with you.

Stay home when you can, practice physical distancing, cover your nose and mouth and wash your hands frequently. Find downloadable graphics for social media and to share in your house/business windows.

Economic Task Force

The Economic Task Force continues to meet weekly to address its mission to support local businesses and non-profits to prepare for and execute a safe and successful 2021. In the past month, the Task Force held an Open Forum to receive comments and feedback from the business and non-profit community, responded to emails sent to its dedicated address: ACKtaskforce@nantucketchamber.org, and made recommendations for messaging on the Town’s Summer 2021 webpage. The Task Force also sent a March update on Small Business Administration (SBA) relief programs to its distributions lists. The Task Force has also discussed plans for outdoor dining in 2021 with the Licensing Administrator which were reviewed by the Select Board at its March 24, 2021 meeting and will be considered again at the Board’s April 7, 2021 meeting. Recognizing that street closures will have an impact on parking, the Task Force met with Officer J. Mack and affirmed its recommendation that parking regulations remain as provided in the Town’s Parking Enforcement Policy (link). To that same end, one of the Task Force members has joined a discussion between Town Administration and NRTA to develop a commuter shuttle program for the coming season to bring workers, shoppers, and diners into town without using a personal vehicle.

The deadline for proposals from businesses to the grant awarded to the Chamber of Commerce’s Rock Solid Fund(s) was March 29th. At this writing, nearly a dozen proposals totaling over $100,000 have been received and the Chamber anticipates that the requests will surpass the available funds once all proposals are received. Proposals are being submitted from businesses across the island’s economic sectors.

Meet Your Town Volunteers

Tom Desmond, Chair of the Parks & Recreation Commission

Tom with his wife Marcia and their daughter Nicole

How long have you lived on Nantucket? We have had our home in Tom Nevers for 20 years, but have been visiting for about 25.

Where are you from? I was raised in New York (Long Island) and Virginia (Shenandoah Valley), but we have been living in the Boston area for the past 40 years.

How did you come to live here? Marcie and I attended a wedding about 25 years ago and fell in love with Nantucket. We decided someday we would retire here.

What is your job? I am a Turnaround Consultant, I turn troubled companies around.

How long have you served on Town committees? Going on my second year in Parks & Rec.

Have you served on any other Town boards or committees besides that one? No.

What interests you about serving in the Town that makes you want to be involved? Love of Nantucket, it is the only place I can truly relax. The stress leaves my body as soon as I step off the ferry. Plus youth sports are very important, extremely important in fact. And healthy activities for young adults.

What is the most rewarding part about serving? Meeting my fellow board members and working with them. Jack, Emma, Blair and Diane (who recently stepped down because she was so busy).

What is the most challenging part? The scope of the Parks Master Plan. It is a great opportunity for the Island. We have to get it right from the beginning and educating people on what has to be done once it is completed.

If you could change one thing about Town government, what would it be? I am not sure I can say I would change anything, but the Town has a lot on its plate. Nantucket has a large talent pool to pull from so I think everything can be worked through.

What is your favorite spot on Nantucket? The old navy base at Tom Nevers.

Which of the following do you think would attract more voters to Town Meeting: e-voting; having a mime help out with the microphones; your idea(s)? Educating people on the importance of the meeting. There are always important issues to be dealt with: pocket book issues and quality of life issues both.

Thank you for dedicating your time to volunteer for the Town, Tom!

Town Clerk's News

2021 Dog Licenses

Dog Licenses for 2021 are now available to residents through the Town Clerk’s Office. (Dog Licenses expire on March 31st every year). There is a Dog Licensing Form on the Annual Town Census that was mailed out in January. If a resident does not have the form, they may still obtain a dog license through the mail and should call or email the Town Clerk's Office for the procedure: townclerk@nantucket-ma.gov, or call 508-228-7216/7217. Dog tags are mailed to residents and are $10 for spayed or neutered dogs, and $15 for non-spayed or neutered.

Town Nomination Papers Available

While the Town Building is not yet open to the public, no appointment is necessary to pick up Nomination Papers from the Clerk’s Office. Please call us from the front (16 Broad Street) double doors between the hours of 8:30 and 3:45 p.m. We will bring you into the office and give you your Nomination Papers and the information on gathering signatures. You must be a registered voter in the Town of Nantucket in order to run for elected office.

Nomination Papers are due back to the Town Clerk’s office no later than Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The offices that are up for 2021 are on the Elections page of the Town of Nantucket website. Feel free to call us with any particular questions. The Town Clerk’s Office: 508-228-7216/7217.

Community Resiliency

Resilient Nantucket Draws International Experts in Climate and Culture

On April 22, 23rd and 24th, the Town of Nantucket will host a free 3-day virtual Earth Day event sharing the latest in climate science, resilient design and cultural resource adaptation.

Holly Backus, Preservation Planner/Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Coordinator encourages Nantucketers to participate in this final 2021 Resilient Nantucket public forum, an international gathering of leaders in cultural and natural resource protection, climate science, tourism, economics and resilience planning.

Nantucket is a National Historic Landmark community with an increasing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, sea-level rise and coastal erosion. This final virtual forum of the 2020 - 2021 Resilient Nantucket series brings together experts from around the world to address the impacts of the global climate crisis on coastal communities and work underway to address this natural disaster in the United States and in Nantucket.

Schedule and registration can be found here and in the Resilient Nantucket Events webpage.

Homeowner Brochure

The Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee (CRAC), with assistance from Coastal Resilience Coordinator Vincent Murphy and Public Outreach Manager Florencia Rullo developed a Homeowner Brochure to help people make their home more resilient to flooding. Completion of this document goes towards the educational goals of the Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee. Download the guide here.

Dune stabilization near Millie’s Bridge

On March 24, Natural Resources Department staff along with many staff from conservation groups and Madaket residents participated in a planting event to stabilize the dune area near Millie's Bridge. In October 2017 a washover event during a storm covered the vegetated area with sand and filled in a large part of Millie’s Pond, on the southern side of the bridge. This created a whole new habitat of sand on top of the previous vegetated and pond edge wetland habitats. This sand is deep, and that offers the chance at increasing the resilience of the area at the new height. To reduce the amount of sand lost to being blown and washed away, the area was planted with almost 7,000 beach grass plants and almost 300 woody shrubs to emulate the natural habitat around it. Beach grass is a dune building species and will capture more sand as it grows, increasing the height of the dune over time. This effort was partly funded through Madaket Conservation Association. Background information and research was mostly through Nantucket Conservation Foundation. This has been a large and cooperative community effort for resilience in the Madaket area. Thanks to all who participated!

Virtual Meeting Toolkit for the Coastal Resilience Plan

Following the “Meeting in a Box” format the Coastal Resilience Plan consultants Arcadis have developed new public outreach tools. The primary tool is the Virtual meeting toolkit that can be used by members of the public, teaches, board, committee and Commission members and any group with an interest. This is supported by a FAQ’s sheet that is designed to help any presenter. There are also storytelling cards where participants can draw a picture or simple write what they want from the Coastal Resilience Plan, now and in the future. The Virtual meeting toolkit, FAQ’s and Story cards are also available in Spanish on the Town website.

Culture & Tourism: Gearing towards the summer

Nantucket Cultural District

Have you discovered the Cultural District calendar yet? It’s a comprehensive listing of what’s going on in cultural organizations and any cultural activity taking place in the District. The Cultural District Workgroup is busy working on a plan to enhance the calendar and the District’s website, including locating an electronic kiosk that allows easy access to the calendar with links to cultural organizations websites to acquire tickets for events, admission, and activities. Present plans are to locate the kiosk in the soon-to-be-renovated Thomas Macy Warehouse on Straight Wharf. Meanwhile, the re-designation of the Cultural District (due in 2021) began when the Town received official notification from the Massachusetts Cultural Council earlier this month that Nantucket was eligible for re-designation. Stay tuned for more opportunities to give input into the process.

Open Restaurants

The Department’s electronic “Open Restaurant” list on the Department’s webpage is refreshed each week on Mondays, is updated as needed and represents the most current listing of open restaurants and hours of operation available. In the past year, the weekly Open Restaurant List has become the most frequently accessed item on the Culture and Tourism website.

Here are just a few highlights of how popular the guide became during the pandemic: In March 2019, 2,537 people visited the Restaurant page; in March 2020, when the Coronavirus lockdown started, that number soared to 7,849, peaking at 16,662 in June compared to just 2,039 the year before. Since then, the average monthly download of the restaurant list is between 5,500-6,000 versus 1,500-2,500 in prior years and continues to be far and away the most popular downloaded file on our webpage.

Travel and Lodging Guide

The Department’s 2021 Travel and Lodging Guide is now available online. The digital format allows us to provide the most up-to-date information to visitors. There have already been a few adjustments made as businesses change their plans or programs are adjusted.

Public Works Updates

Projects the DPW is working on these days include:

  • Sidewalks – Construction begins soon on sidewalk improvements along Easy Street and Lower Broad Street. Contractors will be removing and resetting existing granite curbstones and brick and improving ADA accessibility.
  • Black Horse Court – this newly created bicycle parking area between the Town Building and Sherriff’s Office is ready for summer!
  • Landfill – DPW is widening the scalehouse access lane in the main driveway from Madaket Road, improving the area around TIOLI while it remains closed, introducing new universal waste sheds to the residential drop-off area, and continuing our monthly Clothing/Textile Collection events on the 3rd Sunday of every month.
  • Line Painting – DPW is currently procuring annual line painting services to cover the roadway centerlines and edge lines as well as stop lines and crosswalks. Painting is expected to take place at night later this spring or early summer.
  • Playing Field preparation and maintenance – DPW crews are starting to weed, mow, paint lines, and otherwise prepare our various playing fields and parks/playgrounds for anticipated spring sports and related activities.
Black Horse Court new bicycle parking area.
Views from the Brant Point Hatchery

Natural Resources Department

Water Quality

  • Pond Opening: On Wednesday, March 24, Natural Resources staff oversaw the opening of Sesachacha Pond. Hummock Pond will be opened in April. These openings are done in the spring and in the fall and represent a hydraulic management technique to facilitate dilution of high-nutrient pond waters with low-nutrient ocean waters. In addition to flushing of the ponds, openings also allow access for anadromous fish (fish that spend most of their lives in saltwater and return to freshwater to spawn).
  • Bacterial Source Tracking: NRD is also in the process of utilizing Bacterial Source Tracking (BST) in closed shellfishing areas. As the Department of Marine Fisheries tests local water for fecal coliforms in order to ensure safe consumption of shellfish, if levels are high, sites are closed to shellfishing to protect human health. BST will enable NRD staff to determine if elevated fecal levels are from waterfowl or human. This determination will allow for more informed management practices for water quality.

Protecting Shellfish

  • The year's first spawn of oysters happened on March 23rd and currently there are about 60 million day 2 oyster larvae in the hatchery. All of the oysters from this spawn will be remotely set on concrete blocks called oyster castles. They will grow in the hatchery's outside dock system for a few months until they are moved to east Polpis Harbor where Jen Karberg from Nantucket Conservation Foundation is implementing an oyster restoration project to help with shoreline stabilization and marsh restoration. Below are 2 videos of a male releasing sperm and a female releasing eggs. A “fun fact” is we don’t know if an oyster is male or female until they spawn.

Our Island Home

Saltmarsh Senior Center News

Laura Stewart, Program Coordinator handing out chicken curry with rice and a salad and Ginny Carrera, Assistant Program Coordinator, directing traffic.
We are so happy with the Center's new flooring!
Thank you for reading the Town of Nantucket Monthly e-News. We hope you enjoyed it!
Town of Nantucket - 16 Broad Street Nantucket, MA 02554

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Created By
Public Outreach Manager Florencia Rullo