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

What's up in Town Administration?

2021 Annual Town Meeting and Town Election

Mark your calendars - at the Select Board’s August 19th meeting, the 2021 Annual Town Meeting (ATM) and Annual Town Election (ATE) dates were set:

  • Monday, April 5 – 2021 ATM will start
  • Tuesday, April 13 – 2021 ATE

The timeline is under “final construction” and will be posted to the Town website as soon as possible. If you are a citizen whose article was called at the June 25, 2020 ATM but not voted on, it will be automatically placed on the 2021 Annual Town Meeting warrant – you do not need to take any further action to ensure that it goes on the warrant.

Our Island Home

At the 2017 ATM, a proposal was put forward to purchase property adjacent to Sherburne Commons and appropriate funds to construct a new facility at that site. That proposal was not approved by voters. Subsequently, a review was undertaken as to what it would take to construct a new, or renovate the current, facility at the current site. A final report was presented to the Select Board in September of 2019. The estimated cost was approximately $50,000,000. It was generally agreed by the Board to take this under consideration. Most recently, an internal group has been organized to “jump start” planning for Our Island Home. We engaged a facilitator to help determine consideration factors including facts vs assumptions; core community values; options and possibilities – with associated strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (a so-called SWOT analysis); and, a plan to obtain public input. We are currently in the process of scheduling public input sessions with various stakeholder groups and the community at large, beginning in September. Stay tuned on this!

Third Sewer Force Main Project

As painful as it is to recall, the Town experienced a serious failure in one of the two sewer force mains (SFM) that runs from the Sea Street pump station to the Surfside Wastewater Treatment Facility, during a severe winter storm on January 4, 2018 (later classified as a “bomb cyclone”). The main was evaluated and repaired over the next several months following the storm and the second (back up) sewer force main was activated. During the evaluation process, it was recommended that a third SFM be considered. At the June 25, 2020 Annual Town Meeting, an appropriation of $32,000,000 was approved for construction. Meanwhile, potential routes have been evaluated, using an alternatives analysis. A presentation on this project has been scheduled for the Board’s September 9, 2020 meeting. Once the Board has settled on a specific route, the detailed planning necessary for this project may commence.

Trending….

PFAS

In recent months, Nantucket Memorial Airport has been responding to concerns about PFAS—or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances - in drinking water wells adjacent to Airport property. Under the direction of MassDEP and following an approved Immediate Response Action (IRA) Plan, the Airport and its licensed site professional (“LSP”) are taking the necessary actions to meet all regulatory requirements and guidelines provided by the MassDEP. Any questions about PFAS testing at the Airport should be directed to Noah Karberg, Assistant Airport Manager.

PFAS is a class of man-made chemicals which are used in firefighting foam and numerous everyday products, including nonstick cookware, grease-proof food packaging, personal care products, stain- and water-resistant clothing, carpets, and furniture. For decades, these carbon-fluoride compounds were widely used for their water and oil repellent qualities and are resistant to breakdown. Some PFAS has been found to accumulate in the human body and the food chain. The presence of PFAS in the environment (groundwater, surface water, soil, air, and food) is still poorly understood due to very limited testing.

Considering the PFAS condition at the Airport, the Town is taking steps to perform an assessment of where else PFAS may be a contaminant across the Island. The Town has hired CDM Smith, an environmental consultant, and will develop an initial risk assessment of other potential sources contributing to PFAS contamination. The CDM Smith team brings the experience of a large engineering consulting firm with a team of recognized PFAS experts and local staff to assist us in this evaluation. The PFAS evaluation and the information gathered will help us identify the steps and future actions needed to meet regulatory requirements and guidelines. This initial assessment is planned to be complete in October.

To work alongside CDM Smith, the Town has assembled a PFAS Action team, including representatives of the Sewer, Health and Natural Resources Departments, Public Works, Town Administration, Airport, and Wannacomet Water Company to meet on a regular basis and coordinate related activities. This team reports to the Town Manager.

More information and updates about PFAS are available on the Town’s website and Airport PFAS website. Questions about PFAS and testing can be emailed to PFAS@Nantucket-ma.gov

Trash

Trash remains one of the more galling issues this summer – we really need everyone’s help to clean up after themselves! There is NO reason why our Island cannot be significantly free of roadside litter. This unnecessary trash is mostly caused by unsecured loads from irresponsible parties; certain (not all) businesses and restaurants not properly picking up after their customers – this has been exacerbated by outdoor dining this summer; and, of course, negligence by some members of the general public. The DPW and the Clean Team can only do so much. If you would like to get involved with picking up trash once a week for one hour at a different location around the island each week (8am – 9am on Saturday mornings, spring thru fall), please contact Bill Connell at wconnell@connellanderson.com – otherwise known as Mr. Clean. Bill, along with Sarah Oktay and Grant Sanders, founded the Clean Team in 2004 and has been working to keep our Island clean ever since. Thank you Clean Team!

Noise

Town Administration has received several complaints this summer pertaining to construction noise. The chief concern being that it starts too early. The Town’s Noise Bylaw may be found here. The Select Board has discussed potential amendments over the years and did put forward amendments which were approved at the 2019 Annual Town Meeting. If you believe that the Noise Bylaw is actually being violated, please call Police Dispatch at 508-228-1212 to report it. Contrary to popular opinion, construction work is allowed throughout the island, year-round.

Economic Recovery Post COVID-19

This summer many innovations and adaptations have been implemented to enable businesses and organizations to take strides towards economic recovery after the COVID 19 shutdown last spring and continuing restrictions. In April, the Town convened an Economic Recovery Task Force with members representing different sectors of the economy. Their task was to recommend actions and policy adjustments that Town government could take to assist businesses. A Back-to-Business Work Group of Town employees was then formed to find ways to implement ideas generated by the Task Force. Restaurants, merchants and non-profits were creative in taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them by the nimble and quick work of Town staff and the Select Board’s rapid response.

In the next few weeks, the Task Force will be reconvened to identify other recommendations to support economic recovery activity. EBP, a research firm that prepared and analyzed an economic impact survey last April, will be preparing a follow-up survey to be distributed in late summer/early fall. The survey information will also help to develop initiatives to support businesses and organizations moving forward through the shoulder season and into the holidays. We anticipate changes to community revered holiday activities, including Halloween, Christmas Tree Lighting, Christmas Stroll, and the December 24th Red Ticket Drawing.

2020 Census

Are you one of the missing?

We estimate that about 550 year round households on Nantucket have not completed the 2020 US Census. If yours is one of those households, now’s the time! Seasonal households are asked to take the Census, too. The response period ends September 30.

Visit 2020census.gov, choose your language, and take the Census online today. You can also get help from a Census taker. These are local people who have been trained to conduct census work – including for Covid-19 safety protocols. They carry official identification and devices, and will be knocking on doors 9 AM - 9 PM over the next month. If you’re not home when they visit, they’ll leave a notice with important information about how to respond online, and they’ll return as time allows.

Census takers have begun to visit households that haven’t yet responded to the Census online, by phone, or by returning their Census forms by mail. In some cases, they’re following up with households who HAVE completed the Census, to clarify or verify information provided. Title 13 of the US Code protects the privacy of individual US Census data, so Census takers don’t know whether this is the purpose of their visit. While it can be frustrating, please remember that it’s an important part of getting a complete and accurate count – and they are working hard to make sure that all year round and seasonal households are counted.

The US Census is a constitutionally-mandated process. Population totals from the 2020 US Census will determine federal funding for programs and services we need in our community, and will dictate our representation in Congress as well as the number of Electoral votes we have in Massachusetts – all for the next TEN years.

The US Census only takes place in years that end with “0”. It is NOT the annual Town Census. It IS a critical tool and an opportunity to make sure every voice is heard and that the vibrancy of our community is recognized and represented.

NCTV18 is currently working on a multimedia series called Spotlight Q&A, hosted by Complete Count Committee Administrator Martha Tirk. She’ll talk with community members about topics including Census safety and confidentially, why taking the Census is important to YOU, and the difference between the US Census and the Town Census. If you have specific questions you would like to hear addressed during this series, please email them to arlene@nctv18.org before August 26th. This series is set to premiere in early September and we’ll provide schedule specifics as information becomes available.

If you need help to complete the US Census, or have questions, please contact Nantucket’s 2020 Census Complete Count Committee at nantucketcensus@nantucket-ma.gov.

2020 Elections

Voting Methods for the September 1, 2020 State Primary

Early Voting by Mail (available for ALL 2020 ELECTIONS):

  • Last day to register to vote and change party enrollment for State primary was Saturday, August 22, 2020.
  • Last day to apply for an Absentee or Early Vote Ballot BY MAIL before the State Primary is Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 5 PM. To apply for a vote by mail ballot visit https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/2020-Vote-by-Mail-Application.pdf
  • Fill out, sign and send to Town Clerk (16 Broad Street or townclerk@nantucket-ma.gov or fax: 508-325-5313).

Early Voting in Person (16 Broad St.):

  • Saturday, August 22, 2020 - Friday, August 28, 2020.
  • ** HOURS**: Saturday 8/22: 2 PM to 4 PM and 6 PM to 8 PM; Sunday 8/23: 9 AM to 1 PM; Monday 8/24 - Friday, 8/28: 9 AM to 3 PM.

Vote at the Polls:

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2020 (Nantucket High School, 10 Surfside Road): 7 AM to 8 PM.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital on Covid-19 Contact Tracing

Please Plan Ahead for Your COVID-19 Test at Nantucket Cottage Hospital

If you anticipate needing a non-medically necessary (asymptomatic) COVID-19 test for travel, school or other purposes in the coming weeks and months, Nantucket Cottage Hospital urges you to plan ahead by applying for a testing appointment as soon as possible.

Governor Charlie Baker’s new travel order is now in effect, which requires all visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts from out of state who do not meet an exemption to complete a Travel Form and quarantine for 14 days unless they can demonstrate proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arrival. You may obtain a test at your own expense after your arrival in Massachusetts, but you must quarantine until you obtain a negative result.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital is able to schedule asymptomatic COVID-19 tests ahead of time, and is urging those who may need to be tested to request a testing appointment at NCH as far in advance as possible by clicking here. Non-medically necessary COVID-19 tests are available at NCH for $150 per test by appointment only.

Patients with one or more symptoms of COVID-19 should arrive without an appointment at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital drive-through evaluation site at the main entrance portico. The costs of these medically-necessary COVID-19 tests are completely covered whether you have insurance or not.

COVID-19 testing hours of operation:

  • Monday to Friday: 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday to Sunday: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Sunset from Cisco Beach

Nantucket Efforts to End the Housing Crisis

Public Information Session

The Nantucket Affordable Housing Trust has issued a Request For Proposals seeking properties to put into a year-round rental program which will count toward the state-mandated 10% affordability requirement. For years, if you owned land and wanted to see it go to conservation, the Land Bank has been there to provide a fair price and ensure your environmental conservation wishes. Now there is a program from the Affordable Housing Trust for folks wishing to see their home / property conserve perhaps an even greater resource: our year-round residents.

To learn more, there will be a Public Information Session via Zoom on Thursday, August 27th at 5:30 p.m. Folks wishing to participate in the RFP Public Information Session may do so by registering via this link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rVOsz99-R0u7DUCkAX_pIA

Proposals are due Thursday, October 22nd at 10:00 a.m.

Culture & Tourism

Cultural Legacy Project: AAN 75th Anniversary Art

Have you heard about our Instagram contest? Our Cultural Legacy Program is celebrating the Artist Association of Nantucket’s 75 years. Go to our website VisitNantucketIsland.org and watch the slideshow. Then visit 1 of the 16 locations, take a selfie and post on Instagram with the hashtag ACKAAN75. Each week we will pick the best selfie. Winners receive a great prize.

Island-Wide Efforts to Protect Nantucket’s Ecosystem

Anaerobic Digester Feasibility Study: What is it?

Single Use Plastics Ban

While the 2020 local Plastics Ban did go into effect on June 1, 2020, enforcement was not active since there were documented delays in businesses and suppliers being able to obtain compliant products because of the COVID19 Global Pandemic. We do expect at this time, that businesses should be able to comply. The following single-use plastics are banned from commercial sale and distribution on the Island:

Eric Savetsky, Executive Director of the Nantucket Land Bank, photographing a Smooth Hammerhead shark 90 miles south of Nantucket in Veatch Canyon on the edge of the continental shelf. Photograph by Tom Burns.

News from the Natural Resources Department

Updates from the Brant Point Hatchery

At the beginning of the summer, the State Division of Marine Fisheries reclassified the Shimmo Creek Oyster Restoration site as prohibited to shellfishing due to high levels of bacteria, which means no shellfish can be harvested from Shimmo Creek. As a result, over the last 2 weeks NRD employees have been conducting dive surveys at 4 locations around Nantucket Harbor. Doing in-house preliminary surveys allow NRD to determine suitable sites for future oyster restoration projects.

A few characteristics that make a site suitable are:

  • Approved for shellfishing
  • No eelgrass present
  • Low or no populations of shellfish
  • Hard bottom sediment
  • Protected from storms

NRD has been also working collaboratively with Nantucket Conservation Foundation Research Program Supervisor Jen Karberg on an oyster restoration pilot project in Medouie Creek. Preliminary dive surveys are complete and species biodiversity and abundance surveys will be conducted over the next few weeks.

Shellfish Biologist Tara Riley and Assistant Shellfish Biologist Leah Hill have been working with Morgan Raith to design plaques for a self-guided tour. Once the public is allowed back at the Brant Point Hatchery, they can walk through and learn about the important work done at the Brant Point Shellfish Hatchery. This will allow the public more opportunities to visit the Hatchery on an impromptu basis.

Harmful Algal Blooms Monitoring Program

This year the Town of Nantucket, in collaboration with the Nantucket Land Council, Nantucket Conservation Foundation, and Nantucket Land Bank has developed a Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Monitoring Program which involves weekly visual inspections for HABs for the following ponds: Hummock, Long, Miacomet, Sesachacha, Capaum, Gibbs, Clark’s Cove (West Hummock Pond), Maxcy, and Washing Ponds. As HABs have the potential to harm human health and aquatic ecosystems, weekly monitoring occurs from June until September (HABs are more dominant during the summer months).

Bird Protected Species

Piping Plovers and other protected bird species nested on Town owned and managed beaches including Jetties Beach, Dionis, east of 40th Pole, Smith’s Point, Surfside and Low Beach in the spring and summer 2020. Chicks fledged successfully from most of these beaches. Now that the breeding season has come to an end for these birds, fencing on beaches is coming down and Town beaches are opening up to Over Sand Vehicles again. Natural Resources Dept. would like to thank the public and beach drivers for patience and help for a successful breeding season.

Public Works Updates

For the summer of 2020, on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays, DPW Staff will stop by and remove consolidated bagged ROADSIDE litter at the following bike path drop off locations (look for the signs):

  • Milestone Bike Path (between Monomoy Road and Polpis Road)
  • Milestone Bike Path @ Tom Nevers Road
  • Polpis Bike Path @ the Don Allen FORD Crosswalk
  • Madaket Bike Path @ the Eel Point Crosswalk
  • Surfside Bike Path @ South Shore Road

Be an ACK SUPERSTAR and drop off your collected ROADSIDE litter today! Kindly separate any found recyclables. Please call the DPW Office at (508) 228-7244 for special pickup of any large items found. NO Household Waste!

Our Island Home

Statement from Our Island Home Regarding Reopening

While the Town of Nantucket has been working diligently to reopen, and we at OIH are on the same path, remaining mindful that our resident population continues to be just as vulnerable to this virus as they were when precautions and lockdowns were first implemented in March.

We would like to thank and celebrate resident family members who have worked with staff at Our Island Home to embrace newfound means of maintaining connections in this time of uncertainty and consistent change – including readily available options such as daily phone calls, seeing loved ones for virtual visits, scheduling window visits, and planning drive-by visits with the Our Island Home van. Additionally, a plan for outdoor visitation has been created and a policy is in place; we are working on procuring the necessary resources to facilitate these visits and are hopeful and excited for them to begin.

We have slowly integrated Physical and Occupational therapy services back into the building to work directly with our residents after staff have undergone extensive screening measures. In addition, we have begun permitting a few contracted employees into the building, adhering to daily screening measures and wearing full-PPE for the entirety of their time in our building, during which they remain distanced from our residents as much as possible.

A resident family member recently said, “I always feel so good that you are all there to take care of [them] in every way possible…you guys are like my rock.” Thank you to everyone with a connection to Our Island Home for allowing us to protect your loved one’s health; it is an incredible gift.

Saltmarsh Senior Center News

On Wednesday, August 26th the Council on Aging, Saltmarsh Center and the Nantucket Center for Elder Affairs along with The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund sponsored a fantastic presentation by Dr. Ronald Peterson of the Mayo Clinic. We hope you were able to join us!

Town Trivia is bACK!

Email us your answer at pr@nantucket-ma.gov.

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