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

What's up in Town Administration?

2020 Annual Town Meeting

In February we are very focused on the upcoming Annual Town Meeting, including keeping meetings for preparation and finalization of motions for the articles on track, gathering information and answering questions, and preparing the public outreach schedule. This year, as mentioned in prior e-newsletters, we are introducing e-voting. We’ve had a site visit with the vendor, Option Technologies, to determine set-up and check-in areas where all of the necessary equipment needs to be placed, as well as technology requirements. If we do not finish Town Meeting on Saturday, April 4th, we will be voting “old school” on Monday, April 6.

The warrant with the Finance Committee and Planning Board motions will be finalized the first week of March, sent to the printer and mailed out to voters prior to Town Meeting. 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 2020 Annual Town Meeting and Election warrant adopted by the Select Board on January 20. Click here for a look at the tax rate impact for each applicable ballot question.

Strategic Plan Progress Update

At the Select Board meeting on February 5, Town Administration gave an update on progress toward the Goals contained within the Board’s Strategic Plan. The Board further discussed at its Goal to Develop a Facilities Master Plan at its meeting yesterday. Later this spring, the Board will be holding its Annual Retreat to review, update and/or modify its Strategic Plan.

Other activities with which Town Admin has been busy:

  1. Looks like we are working toward scheduling a Special Town Meeting this fall. Possible articles include: appropriation for construction of a new Senior Center (location TBD); appropriation for design of renovated and/or new facility for Our Island Home; stormwater management bylaw. Also, depending on how votes at the Annual Town Meeting and subsequent Annual Election turn out, we may need a vote to modify the General Fund budget – especially if the proposed operating override for Our Island Home does not pass. That will mean we need to reduce General Fund operations in other areas and/or at Our Island Home, thus necessitating budget amendments at a town meeting. Stay tuned for more on this – we are likely to present the Board with a proposed Special Town Meeting timeline sometime in March.
  2. Stormwater drainage complaints. These are becoming more frequent. Especially in areas where development has occurred or increased over the past few years but drainage infrastructure has not; or, has not been adequately sized or improved; or, work has occurred to roads or property in nearby areas without adequate on-site drainage containment - there are numerous reasons. The DPW Director gave the Board an update as to current town stormwater projects at its January 15 meeting. There are more projects in play than there is staff time or funding at the moment. As noted above, we are going to be working on a stormwater management bylaw for the Special Town Meeting – this may involve the subsequent development of regulations that would lay out what is required for certain types of projects with respect to proper stormwater design, containment and disposal and enforcement.
  3. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is working with the Town to develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan – a stakeholders meeting is scheduled for February 14 and information will be coming out very shortly about this initiative.
  4. National Grid’s “L-8” project has started. To increase capacity for the east side —and to reduce the potential for power outages across the Island and at critical facilities like the sewage treatment plant, hospital, and airport — National Grid (in partnership with Verizon) has begun the installation of a new electric service feeder that will run from downtown (Candle Street) to Milestone Road. The project, which involves replacing 38 poles and upgrading the wires along the 1.5-mile route, may result in minor traffic impacts at certain points. Work is expected to be complete by the 2020 summer season. We will be receiving regular updates as to progress on this project.

Massachusetts Distracted Driving Law – What you need to know

Massachusetts, like five other New England States, now has a law that bans the use of handheld devices, like cellphones while behind the wheel. According to a report filed by Steve Brown, a reporter for WBUR 90.9 FM that aired on November 26, 2019, here is what you need to know about the new law:

What does it ban?

Any use of a hand-held device while driving. This means no scrolling, swiping, typing or otherwise using or holding a cellphone while behind the wheel. You’ll have to use voice to text, speakerphone or another hands-free way to talk or text while driving.

Wasn’t there already a ban on texting and driving?

Yes, but it didn’t ban other types of handheld phone usage. And there’s a lot more you can do on a phone than text.

When does it go into effect?

Enforcement can begin 90 days from when the bill was signed by the Governor – so February 23.

What if I get caught?

There will be a grace period until the end of March 2020. So, if you’re stopped, only expect a warning. But after that, a first offense will mean a $200 fine; second offense $250; and a third or any subsequent offense will cost you $500. Habitual offenders could also be subjected to auto insurance surcharges or driver training.

Nantucket Efforts to End the Housing Crisis

In January, representatives of the Town – including Municipal Housing Director Tucker Holland, Real Estate Specialist Ken Beaugrand and Affordable Housing Trust Vice Chair Brooke Mohr – traveled to the State House to work with Rep. Dylan Fernandes and a coalition of municipalities from across the Commonwealth on advancing legislation which would allow for a modest transfer fee (0.5% percent) on real estate transactions over $2 million. This measure has been supported unanimously by Annual Town Meeting the past three years, and now with communities like Boston adopting similar measures, the time may be ripe for the legislature to pass this long-overdue reliable funding stream and make it available to address our year-round housing challenge. Nantucket’s proposal would impose a ½ percent transaction fee on real estate sales over $2 million, and only on the amount over $2 million. In a $3 million transaction, the fee would be $5,000. But these funds can add up to help get more year-rounders into stable, suitable housing that is affordable to them. The measure has been widely supported on the Island and if it had been in place in recent years, it would have generated approximately $3 million per year to be administered by the Affordable Housing Trust.

If you would like to know how you or your organization can help advocate for passage of this important legislation, please contact Housing Director Tucker Holland.

Neighborhood First Advisory Committee

The Neighborhood First Advisory Committee, co-chaired by year-round resident Peter Hoey and seasonal resident Doug Abbey, has been very busy lately. The Committee recently presented its recommended strategies for deploying the $20 million authorized at last year’s Annual Town Meeting. The approaches recommended would meet both aims of the article – to achieve a year or more of safe harbor once our current two-year period (which runs until June 2021) expires and to disperse housing that is affordable to year-rounders. The Affordable Housing Trust is in the process of taking the Committee’s recommendations and issuing an RFI for properties that fit the criteria. The RFI is expected to be issued this winter.

On January 10 the Appeals Court for the Commonwealth gave the 6 Fairgrounds / Ticcoma Green development a favorable ruling across the board on the appeal of the Planning Board and Land Court’s prior decisions by three neighbors. This ruling should clear the way for much needed housing to be developed and may also provide an additional two years of safe harbor at a point which would sync with the expiration of our current period. However, if the neighbors chose to appeal the decision yet again to the Supreme Judicial Court, and the SJC agrees to hear the case, the project may be delayed further and the new two-year safe harbor may not come timely. Annual Town Meeting has continuously affirmed its support of this project and many would welcome seeing the community’s will be allowed to proceed without further delay.

If you are interested in following the progress on all these housing issues and more, and being part of the conversation, the Affordable Housing Trust meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 1 pm in the Community Room at 4 Fairgrounds Road. The next meeting will be March 17, 2020.

Sconset sunset and the Sankaty Light House

Thank You Mike Burns!

Transportation Planner Mike Burns is leaving the island at the end of the month. We had a chat with him and asked some questions to share with you.

Mike, tell us some of the most interesting/challenging projects you have worked on during your time with the Town.

There have been so many over the years. I was hired and started on June 25, 2001 with the task of implementing a program to limit the number of vehicles on island, and I failed that one. It was challenging. The proudest accomplishment was being part of the initial phase of the In-Town Bike Path. That was a decade's old project that was finally completed along a causeway between Washington Street Extension and Orange Street literally 100 years after the causeway was no longer needed for the railroad. A very close second is the Hummock Pond Road Bike Path, mostly for the overwhelming community support and $620,718.31 raised privately to offset the $2.9 million construction cost. The Sparks Roundabout is special because it was the probably the first big project I helped with and I believe was my first exposure to speaking at Town Meeting. Paid parking is something that has been discussed for well over a decade and is still on-going. Understanding and explaining the evolving technologies with that program has been very interesting and challenging. Working with the various WPI student teams over the years on transportation websites, wind turbines, parking management, and accessibility improvements was probably the most rewarding.

What was your experience living on Nantucket?

Housing was always a stresser, just like it is for most year-round renters, and a few times I felt forced to leave much earlier than I am now. About 12 years ago I was in that situation and former Selectman and Planning Board member Frank Spriggs heard about it and offered his garage apartment to me for a very reasonable price. He and his wife, Bette, said they wanted to help people like me who contribute to the community. I’ve been there ever since. They even lowered the rent a few years into the lease after paying off the loan that built the apartment…who does that??

As far as the lifestyle that Nantucket offers, I’ll absolutely miss being a 5 minute drive from the beach (Lady’s is my favorite), the quiet of the off-season after a crazy summer (I like it), and the feeling of seeing the island from a boat or plane after a time away (it’s one of the best feelings).

How was the experience of working for the Nantucket community?

There is a passion that a lot of people have who live here (seasonally or year-round) that may be a little bit stronger than anywhere else, I’m not sure. Public outreach is very important. Most professional Planners will say do not live in the community where you work, but I couldn’t avoid that. Sometimes public outreach can happen at the grocery store, and that can be awkward.

I worked in the transportation field in the public sector for a living, but I also feel that I worked for the community in other capacities – volunteering my time to feel more a part of the community. I will miss serving as parking coordinator in Town and Sconset for the Chamber of Commerce during the Daffodil Festival, and I’ll miss grilling sausages for the Rotary Club in the Stop and Shop parking lot during Stroll. My experience with the Rotary Club is something I will always value. I served as President (I was actually up for another term in July) and I contributed and served as a chaperone on the recent High School student service trip to Puerto Rico. The Rotary four-way test is something that anyone can apply in the things we say, write, and do, especially working for the public and the Nantucket Community – 1. Is it true? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Does it build good will and better friendships? 4. Does it benefit all involved?

June 28, 2018: Town Manager Libby Gibson with Sewer Dir. David Gray (left) who receives the Heartbeat of Nantucket (citizen of the year) award and Mike Burns (right) who receives the Robert W. Allen (Rotarian of the Year) award.

Coronavirus Update from Health Director Roberto Santamaria

The Novel coronavirus from the Wuhan province in China is an emerging illness that belongs to a large family of viruses that are common throughout the world. In recent years, we have heard of other coronaviruses in the news. Illnesses like SARS and MERS are all types of coronaviruses. As such, we know that the new virus presents in the same way that the previous viruses did too. Symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever are common and can be easily be mistaken for many other illnesses, including Influenza A and B.

There are currently no cases of coronavirus on Nantucket. However, this does not mean that you should not be practicing good respiratory and hand hygiene.

The influenza virus has a significant presence on the island and New England as a whole. If you have not received the flu shot yet, please make an effort to do so. Influenza currently is the illness of concern on Nantucket and your efforts, as well as ours, are what keep the island healthy and happy. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/flu.

Island-Wide Efforts to Protect Nantucket’s Ecosystem

2020 Single-Use Plastics Ban

Do you or anyone you know has a business? The Town of Nantucket’s Single-Use Plastics Ban takes effect on June 1, 2020 and it is applicable to most if not all businesses on the Island. The Single-Use Plastics Ban, voted by the Town at the October 10, 2018 Special Town Meeting, prohibits the following single-use plastics from commercial use, sale and distribution:

If you are not sure whether your business is in compliance with this bylaw, please email plasticsban@nantucket-ma.gov to schedule a free audit of your merchandise and/or ask any questions about the ban.

Mark Your Calendars: Second Annual Nantucket Litter Derby!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 28th and join us for the Second Annual Nantucket Litter Derby! Look what we can accomplish as a community when we work together and have fun while doing it.

To everyone who participated in last year’s event, thank you! With your participation, together we can make an even bigger impact for the well-being of Nantucket’s neighborhoods, shorelines and wild places. The DPW was instrumental in making this happen last year when the event brought in over 3.5 tons of litter composed of:

  • 2,400 pounds Non-Recyclable & Non-Compostable Waste/Construction & Demolition Debris Waste (1.2 tons)
  • 2,280 pounds of Recyclable Glass
  • 1400 pounds Scrap Metal including 4 bicycles (0.7 tons)
  • 280 pounds of Recyclable Plastic
  • 270 pounds Recyclable Tin/Aluminum
  • 15 Tires- 300 pounds worth!
  • 3 TVs
  • 1 washing machine
  • 6 bags Compostable Waste
  • 8 batteries
  • 5 quarts motor oil (hazardous waste)
  • 1 syringe

Nantucket Recycles!

Merrill Mason, High School Art teacher, and the HS Art and Environmental Clubs put a piece of art work in a downtown store window in February and March. Yesterday, a bicycle made out of recycled plastic was installed by the students in Young’s window. (Coordinated by Emma Young.) The art work reflects the ban on single-use plastics as well as the desire to have something in storefront windows in the winter.

Sewer Department: Anaerobic Digester Feasibility Study

The Sewer Department, in collaboration with other town departments, including the Health Department, Public Works, and the Energy Office and Town Administration have been working with Weston & Sampson on a project to investigate the feasibility of installing anaerobic digestion technology at the Surfside Wastewater Treatment Facility. On February 4, 2020, a public meeting was held at Nantucket High School to gather community feedback and present the structure of the feasibility study project.

Utilizing organic waste streams from around the island, anerobic digestion has the possibility to provide the Surfside Wastewater Treatment Facility with a source of renewable energy, decreasing operating costs and reducing the amount of solid waste sent to the landfill. This feasibility study project seeks to identify and quantify sources of organic material and the financial benefits, as well as possible design constraints and operational challenges, of bringing anaerobic digestion to Nantucket.

Sewer Director David Gray and Weston & Sampson Project Engineer Gina Cortese at the February 4, 2020 info session.

For more information or to submit feedback about the project, visit the Anaerobic Digester Feasibility Study page.

2020: Annual Town Census vs Federal Census

February afternoon by the Town Pier.

News from The Fire Department

Last week, firefighters had a 5-day Hazardous Materials training course, led by John Mure, a Battalion Chief with the Phoenix, AZ Fire Department.

Firefighters in “Level A” HazMat suits training to stop a leaking tank.

Four firefighters recently climbed the TD Garden in Boston in support of the 100 Club of Massachusetts and the New England Firefighter Cancer Fund.

Scott Holmes, Kevin Ramos, Ethan Fey, and Mike Finnegan are pictured with former Boston Bruin PJ Stock prior to the event.

Culture & Tourism

News from the Natural Resources Department

  1. Natural Resources staff is currently in the process of servicing the department's water quality equipment and ordering supplies for the upcoming field season for sampling and monitoring of surface waters in Nantucket and Madaket Harbors, and in the 4 Great Ponds: Hummock, Long, Sesachacha, and Miacomet. NRD Director Jeff Carlson and Water Resource Specialist Thaïs Fournier recently presented water quality initiatives for the Select Board's Strategic Plan as part of its environmental goals to finalize an island-wide long-term water quality management plan that addresses ponds, harbors, stormwater, and wastewater, with specific ways/methods to measure improvement.
  2. The department has been working with the Health Department in the creation of standardized water quality testing procedures and parameters by creating a standardized water quality data collection sheet in order to improve current water quality testing procedures and habitat quality evaluation metrics. We also created an inventory of existing bylaws, regulations, state and federal laws that impact water quality in order to manage our water resources on Nantucket and compiled a list of goals from existing Nantucket plans as related to water quality so that we may identify where effort is being duplicated and specific actions are implemented by appropriate Town Departments.
  3. Water Resource Specialist Thaïs Fournier is partaking in an Environmental Protection Agency peer review panel regarding approaches to reduce nutrient loadings for Harmful Algal Blooms management. Thaïs’ participation will benefit the department in a way that will see the grant selection process from the inside in order to prepare for more competitive applications in the future.
  4. Today, the Nantucket New School 8th graders are coming to the hatchery to learn about bay scallops and do a dissection. We have been busy working on a self-guided tour at the hatchery so we can reach and educate more of the public about the work done at the Brant Point Shellfish Hatchery, history of shellfishing on the Island, and how the public can help protect or enhance the Island’s natural resources.

Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee

The Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee was established by the Select Board in April 2019. Its mission is to work with the Coastal Resiliency Coordinator in the development, oversight, and implementation of a Coastal Resiliency Plan for the Town of Nantucket to address the impact of climate change and sea level rise. Following we enumerate some of the topics the committee has been working on lately:

  1. The committee has been focused on drafting a recommendation to the Select Board on how some coastal resilience strategies may be implemented when properties come up for development. This revolved around looking at what jurisdiction any recommendation may operate under, such as Planning Board, Conservation Commission, etc. The Committee also examined what regulatory area that these strategies may apply to such as the FEMA flood zones or other similar areas.
  2. The committee has also been involved in discussions about the request for proposals for a consultant to be hired to help develop the Coastal Resilience Plan for the Town.
  3. The committee has been studying a newly received Coastal Risk assessment and Resilience Strategies report to inform themselves on some of the strategies available.
  4. A Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee Education Sub-committee has been established. The sub-committee's mission is to look into developing some easily consumable leaflets to inform homeowners of their risk to coastal flooding, and also what they may be able to do to the properties to increase resilience to these types of events.

Invasive Species of Nantucket: How to Detect Them?

This list was developed by Seth Engelbourg and members of the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative Invasive Plant Species Council. Town of Nantucket Coastal Resilience Coordinator Vincent Murphy used this list to create a sign that can be displayed at the landfill invasive species dumpster. Town of Nantucket Solid Waste Coordinator Graeme Durovich coordinated with Waste Options to have this sign put in place.

A joint effort between the Town's Natural Resources and Public Works departments and the Invasive Plant Species Council, members of Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative.

Town Departments Are Seeking Summer Employees

Marine Department

The Harbormaster Office seeks 50 highly qualified candidates for seasonal open water lifeguard positions at nine Town beaches for the 2020 season.

Natural Resources Department

The Natural Resources Department is hiring 3 seasonal positions:

  1. Water Resources/Shell Recycling Intern;
  2. Oyster Restoration Intern;
  3. Hatchery Technician Intern.

Police Department

The Nantucket Police Department is hiring certified Reserve Police Officers as well as Community Service Officers for the 2020 summer season. Reserve Police Officers and Community Service Officers have various assignments including bicycle patrol, foot patrol and ATV patrol.

Become a Community Service Officer for the Nantucket Police Department. Apply today!

Nantucket Community Television Awarded by the MASS Access Creator Awards

Producers from NCTV, Nantucket’s Media Arts Center, took home three awards in January at the 2019 MASS Access Creator Awards in Boston. Held on January 28, this annual ceremony took place at Laugh Boston Nightclub in South Boston, MA.

The Massachusetts Creator Awards recognizes outstanding work in television and media within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To read the full press release from NCTV, visit https://nantucketcommunitytelevision.org/nctv-producers-received-three-awards/.

NCTV wants to help you spread the word about your citizen warrant article

Nantucket Community Television is conducting 5-minute interviews to summarize each Citizen Warrant Article for this year's Annual Town Meeting. Every interview is free and taped (not live). To sign up or for more information, please email Maria at info@nctv18.org.

Happy Valentine's Month from The WAVE!

Our Island Home backyard

Our Island Home February Activities

Regular music performances take place in the Our Island Home Living Room and they are free and open to the public!

  • Today: Steve Tuna performing from 4 – 4:45 pm
  • Monday, February 17: Catholic Mass held at 10:45 am in the OIH dining room
  • Tuesday, February 18: Steve Tuna performing from 4 – 4:45 pm
  • Wednesday, February 19: Violinist Graeme Durovich performing 3:45 – 4:30 pm
  • Monday, February 24: Guitarist Jim Sulzer performing from 4 – 4:45 pm
  • Tuesday, February 25: Susan + Ray performing from 4 – 4:45 pm
Thank you for reading the Town of Nantucket Monthly e-News. We hope you enjoyed it!
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