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

What's up in Town Administration?

The COVID-19 Global Pandemic has certainly dominated the activities of most Town departments and agencies since mid-March. With limited exception (Public Safety Facility and Culture and Tourism office) most Town offices remain closed to the public; however, Town staff is available to serve the public remotely and in some circumstances, by appointment. You can email us or call us and we can help you with what you need. We do not currently have a specific date by which Town offices will open up to the public. We are assessing what other towns are doing and are very much paying attention to what the Governor has to say. For the most part, it seems that many towns across the state are taking their time with reopening plans to ensure the utmost safety for employees and the public.

At the Select Board meeting of July 15, I recognized Town staff and others for their contributions in the early days of the pandemic. A lot of people worked very hard for the Town and community – seven days a week, for weeks. A link to that part of the Board meeting, may be found here. THANK YOU to everyone who has worked to keep our community safe! Speaking of which – click here for the latest COVID news on the Town’s website. And please do not forget to wear your face covering in the Old Historic Districts of Nantucket and Sconset. Most of us do not love wearing a face covering; however, it is important for ALL of us to do so when we cannot social distance (and, as noted above) so that we can “keep the curve flat” and keep transmission of the virus to an absolute minimum. The Select Board is provided with a weekly COVID-19 update and the Public Health Director provides the status of metrics developed to gauge the Island’s response and preparedness.

Meanwhile, we are now faced with another public health emergency: PFAS. It is evident that addressing the PFAS issue(s) will be time-consuming and costly. Yesterday's Airport Commission public informational session on PFAS was recorded and can be found on the Town's YouTube channel.

We are working on other initiatives and on-going projects as best we can, including:

Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

The Select Board has this matter on its weekly agenda, for updates and continuing action and discussion. Mostly recently, we developed a job description for a new position of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator and have started advertising for the position. We have a Request for Proposals under development for a Town-wide assessment/evaluation of where the Town government is with DEI, including recommendations for improvement. An independent group (Nantucket Equity Advocates – NEA, nantucketequityadvocates@gmail.com) has communicated with the Town as to organizing a Community Forum to discuss race relations and equity. NEA’s July 15 presentation to the Board can be found here.

Select Board Strategic Plan Update

We are currently planning for a fall retreat for this.

Town Meeting

An abbreviated Annual Town Meeting was held on June 25th. We were able to adopt a revised FY 2021 budget, as well as some “essential” financial articles. Click here for a summary of results. About half of the 51 citizen articles were passed over to a future town meeting. At its meeting on July 22, the Board discussed whether or not to schedule a Special Town Meeting and agreed not to. Overall safety concerns, logistical challenges and lack of urgent matters were factors in the decision.

Other topics:

Looking ahead, we continue to work on long-term solid waste planning, employee housing, long-term planning for Our Island Home and the Senior Center, road and sidewalk improvement projects, collective bargaining among other current activities.

Trending:

Signs.

Political signs have sprouted up in a variety of locations around the Island and we have received inquiries about them (“I thought all signs had to be removed within 30 days” – Untrue; “Can the Town remove the political signs, there are too many of them” – Not easily and not without specific determination that they cause a public safety hazard; “So can I put a sign out in front of my house advertising my business?” No – commercial signs are regulated). We have developed an explanation about signs on the town's website.

Trash.

Numerous complaints about roadside litter and trash along beach areas. Roadside: DPW was delayed in roadside litter patrols throughout the spring due to the COVID pandemic. DPW has a staffing shortage at the moment. Both of these have contributed to the roadside litter problem; however, the real reason there is roadside litter is because of irresponsible people who allow litter to discharge from their vehicles and/or themselves. Just stop it! While the Clean Team is back in action as of July 18, they cannot keep the entire Island clean on their own. EVERYONE needs to help (see new DPW program below). Beaches: a lot of beach trash drifts in from the ocean, which we cannot control. We could all bring a trash bag to the beach with us, do a few minutes of trash patrol and “carry in – carry out”. It’s pretty simple.

With the arrival of outdoor dining, we are seeing an increase in litter downtown. Some businesses are very good at cleaning up around their areas, daily; others not so much. "Clean Your Block" should be a motto of every business. Here is Dep. Sheriff Rich Harrington doing litter patrol around the Town Building block. Thank you, Rich!

Dep. Sheriff Rich Harrington.
Outdoor Dining

Aside from trash issues, visitors and residents alike have been enjoying a unique experience on Nantucket this summer. In May, the Select Board approved a plan to expand outdoor dining to town streets and sidewalks and private parking lots. By mid-June, several restaurants had set up socially-distanced dining spaces adjacent to their physical locations. The restaurants have been incredibly creative in designing the spaces and so many businesses and community members have stepped in to collaborate from the beautiful ‘landscaping’ turning streets into gardens, to the Artists Association transforming concrete barriers and a dirt parking lot to an Art Gallery. We are already working on plans to extend our enjoyment of the outdoors to the Autumn months. The people frequenting the spaces are having a great – and safe -- time enjoying their favorite restaurants al fresco and with a very European feel.

*REMINDER: disposable masks SHOULD NOT be flushed down the toilet! They should be properly disposed of as non-recyclable non-compostable material.

Lastly, I would like to recognize the following:

W. Michael Cozort, retired Superintendent of Schools.

W. Michael Cozort, retired Superintendent of Schools. I had the good fortune of working with Mike for the past 10 years. His cooperation has greatly increased coordination and communications between the Town and the School. He has been a pleasure to work with and I greatly appreciate being able to call him anytime and talk over, well, anything. Thank you, Mike!

Elizabeth Hallett, Superintendent of Schools.

I am very much looking forward to working with Mike’s successor, Elizabeth Hallett, who has already continued in Mike’s footsteps with an approach that fosters communication and working together.

John Buckey, former Nantucket High School Principal.

John Buckey, former Nantucket High School Principal. I also had the good fortune to work with John over the past 11 years. Again, anytime I or he had an issue, we were able to resolve it cooperatively and collegially. John and his team did a fantastic job putting on a 2020 NHS Graduation, that literally, was like no other. Recognizing the challenges of COVID-19, they managed to find creative ways to celebrate the Seniors and it was terrific. Thank you, John and best wishes!

2020 Census

Take the Census. Feed a family. Pay a teacher. Fund health clinics. Fill a pothole.

You’ve seen the signs. They show the direct connection between taking the US Census (a constitutional mandate) and the allocation of funding for services and programs that benefit everyone living on Nantucket. Census data also informs funding to subsidize our bus service and protect our watershed. As some of the signs say, "taking it doesn't hurt, but not taking it can".

In light of a recent White House memo about excluding undocumented immigrants from the Census count so legislative representation does not reflect all members of a given community, it’s important to note that there is NO citizenship question on the Census and therefore it is not even possible to gather this information. The US Constitution directs Congress to conduct a census count of "persons” living in the U.S. every ten years, and does not distinguish between citizens and non-citizens. This move is being challenged by Census equity and advocacy groups across the country, because representation is at stake.

Currently, only about 26% of Nantucket households have responded to the Census. We stand to lose a lot without a complete count. Please take the Census on your own now, before Census takers begin going door-to-door in mid-August to follow up with non-responding households.

The Census is fast, easy, and safe – individual responses are confidential and protected by federal law. Visit 2020census.gov to take the Census. You can also do so by phone at 844-330-2020, or by completing and returning your paper form by mail.

By taking the Census, you’ll help bring the funding and representation we deserve to Nantucket and - through August 14 you can also be entered into a drawing for a $100 Stop & Shop gift card. Details for entering the drawing are on the Town's Facebook page.

2020 Federal/State Election

A “Vote by Mail Application” postcard has been mailed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth to every registered voter. You may also use the “Vote by Mail Application”.

  • Tuesday, Sept. 1st, 2020 – Massachusetts State Primary, Polls Open at Nantucket High School from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voter Registration Deadline: Saturday, August 22, 2020
  • Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, 2020 – Massachusetts General Election, Polls Open at Nantucket High School from 7 a.m.to 8 p.m. Voter Registration Deadline: Saturday, October 24, 2020

Nantucket Cottage Hospital on Covid-19 Contact Tracing

Case Investigation and Contact Tracing: How Does It Work?

Among the best tools we have to contain the spread of the coronavirus on Nantucket are case investigation and contact tracing. These are proven methods used by health departments across the world to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Contact tracing works by identifying confirmed cases of COVID-19 and interviewing the patient to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious. These close contacts are then warned of their potential exposure, provided education, information and support to understand their risk, encouraged to get tested for COVID-19, and given instructions to prevent further spread.

Nantucket Efforts to End the Housing Crisis

Affordable Housing Trust Launches Neighborhood First

At the 2019 Annual Town Meeting, and subsequently at the polls, the voters put faith in the Nantucket Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT) through the approval of a $20 million bonding authorization (the “Neighborhood First” program) in addition to a $5 million bonding by the Community Preservation Committee (CPC). Both pools of funds are to be administered by the Trust toward achieving the community’s goals with respect to further addressing the community’s year-round housing needs and Safe Harbor.

The Trust is pleased to announce the first of these funds were recently expended to acquire two contiguous parcels at 135 and 137 Orange Street for the purposes of developing year-round rental housing that will be eligible for inclusion on the Town’s Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI). Under M.G.L. Chapter 40B, every municipality within the Commonwealth is required to have 10% of its year-round housing inventory qualify on the SHI. If it does not, and it is not making good faith progress toward the 10%, a community can become subject to an unwanted development in the form of an “unfriendly” 40B.

The Orange Street combined site would allow for up to 32 units under existing local zoning. If it is developed with at least 24 units, it will provide a year of Safe Harbor from the 40B requirement. $3.5 million was paid for the combined site. While presently devoid of buildings, the site has previously been developed involving multiple structures and presently is open land.

When the Trust was given the responsibility of administering the $25 million for housing, it immediately set up the Neighborhood First Advisory Committee (NFAC) to tap into both year-round and seasonal expertise to develop criteria for spending the money. Doug Abbey, a seasonal resident with deep housing expertise, and Peter Hoey, a year-round resident with keen interest and insight in this area, co-chaired the nine-member NFAC. Over a five month period, the NFAC outlined key evaluation criteria, including: potential under local zoning, land cost per unit, access to Town sewer / water, opportunity for energy efficient design, distance from existing affordable housing, proximity to goods and services, distance to schools and employment, opportunity to leverage additional subsidy, accessibility to public transportation and more. The NFAC recommended three strategies to the use of these funds: multiple pocket developments, buy-downs of existing rental properties, and dispersed site purchases and development. The Orange Street acquisition represents the first strategy.

The next steps for the Trust are to look at the timing of the development at this location relative to maintaining Safe Harbor and soliciting a qualified developer through an RFP process. “Having a design consistent with community standards is paramount,” noted Tucker Holland, Municipal Housing Director. “As to timing, one of the factors driving that will be when Ticcoma Green comes on-line.” Holland noted now that the legal hurdles have been cleared for the Ticcoma Green development (to be located at 6 Fairgrounds Road), it is eligible to apply for a tax credit award. The timing of that award will determine when the community will get a two year Safe Harbor benefit. Seventy-five percent of the acquisition cost for each parcel comes from the Neighborhood First funding, and twenty-five percent from the CPC.

In conjunction with Neighborhood First, the Trust also will be issuing an RFP in August seeking individual “scattered site” properties, in concert with another strategy noted above, which may be acquired and then turned into year-round rental properties which would be eligible for the SHI list. There is an information session planned at 5:30pm on Thursday, August 27th via Zoom. For more information, please visit the Affordable Housing Trust webpage or e-mail Tucker Holland.

Brant Point Lighthouse

Island-Wide Efforts to Protect Nantucket’s Ecosystem

2020 Single-Use Plastics Ban

At the October 10, 2018 Special Town Meeting, a single-use plastics ban was approved. It was subsequently approved by the Attorney General and technically became effective on June 1, 2020. The ban applies to the commercial sale and distribution of the following single-use plastics:

Because of the COVID pandemic, the supply stream for substitute items has been drastically interrupted and delayed. While our public outreach efforts were also interrupted we understand that many businesses simply could not comply with the ban by June 1. We have met with some of the larger retailers (Stop & Shop, Cumberland Farms) and distributors such as US Foods and believe that we can start expecting compliance by the end of July. Initially, our approach will be one of education rather than strict enforcement.

CARE for the Cape & Islands released a “Compostable Food Serviceware Buying Guide” that aims to provide restaurants and other food service businesses alternatives to plastic take-out containers and serviceware, like cups, plates, bowls and utensils. The guide was released by CARE for the Cape & Islands and created in collaboration with the Wellfleet Recycling Committee and Woods Hole Sea Grant.

Nantucket Recycles!

Take It or Leave It Update

The Take-It-or-Leave-It (TIOLI) remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19. The DPW looks forward to it safely reopening in the future as the TIOLI is an important part of the island's waste management system, facilitating the reuse of items locally. Once the TIOLI reopens, the opportunities for reuse will extend off-island, thanks to a new partnership with Salvation Army.

Previously when the TIOLI was cleaned out weekly, most of the contents (an average of 3.33 tons per week) went into Construction & Demolition Debris Waste to be taken off-island, ultimately to an Ohio landfill. Through our new partnership, the DPW will divert the leftover reusable items from our TIOLI to Salvation Army's regional center in Brockton for off-island beneficial reuse. In addition to being more sustainable and environmentally responsible, it is expected this program improvement will save the Town over $72,000 annually.

Anaerobic Digester Feasibility Study Public Forum

Today at 6 pm the Sewer Department with Weston & Sampson will host a virtual public meeting to present preliminary results of a study to determine the feasibility of installing anaerobic digestion technology at the Surfside Wastewater Treatment Facility. Utilizing organic waste streams from around the island, anaerobic digestion has the potential to provide the Treatment Facility with a source of renewable energy, decreasing operating costs and reducing the amount of solid waste sent to landfill.

National Grid Recycling Pickup Event on Friday, August 14

Schedule a pickup by August 12 to receive $125 incentive

National Grid is heading to Nantucket on Friday, August 14 to pick up and recycle old, inefficient appliances such as fridge, freezer, and dehumidifiers. For a limited time, customers will receive a $125 check for every recycled refrigerator or freezer, and $30 for recycled dehumidifier. This service comes at no cost to customers and a safe contactless option is available.

Schedule a pickup by August 12 to qualify for this offer. Call 1-877-889-4761 or go to www.MassSave.com/Recycle. Limited spots available.

Interested in saving more energy this summer?

Schedule a no-cost Virtual Home Energy Assessment!

Mass Save is now offering remote home assessments. Participate in a live virtual discussion with an energy specialist to learn more about your home and find opportunities to save you money and energy– including a limited-time offer of 100% off approved insulation, equipment rebates, no-cost products, and 0% financing. Call 1-866-537-7283 to schedule.

Questions? Contact: Lauren Sinatra, Energy Coordinator, at LSinatra@nantucket-ma.gov or 508-325-5379.

News from the Natural Resources Department

Bird Protected Species

The Natural Resources Department works with all of the organizations on island that look after protected birds species. The Town bird monitor along with bird monitors from Nantucket Conservation Foundation, Massachusetts Audubon Society and The Trustees of Reservations Coskata / Coatue all contribute to determine where birds are present and nesting, and which beaches should remain closed to beach driving in order to protect them.

Oysters' World

  • NRD staff has added more cured, recycled shells to the Shimmo Creek Oyster Restoration Project.
  • The shell recycling program is up and running, all of the participants from last year are participating again in some capacity. The team does pickups twice a week. There are also two public drop-off locations for the public to recycle oyster and quahog shells that are later used to build more oyster reefs!

A few weeks ago, surveyors from Horsley Witten Group conducted field work at Sesachacha Pond. This is the first step for the Sesachacha Pond Oyster Restoration/Living Shoreline project. The data gathered will be used for designing the project which will consist of reef ball structures that will serve as habitat for oysters as well as building up the bank between the pond and Polpis Road with natural vegetation.

Congratulations to Assistant Shellfish Biologist Leah Cabral for graduating from the University of Florida with a Master’s Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences!
Assistant Shellfish Biologist Leah Cabral on the field.

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!

Public Works Summer Projects

Public Works has been working on several projects, including:

  • Enhanced Covid-19 electrostatic spraying at all public restroom facilities throughout the summer.
  • Office safety screen installation in Town offices in preparation for reopening to the public.
  • Building repair/maintenance at several Town facilities, including 16 Broad Street, 20 South Water Street, 37 Washington Street and 131 Pleasant Street.

Reminder from the Fire Department

Safe disposal of oily rags

Oily rags are a source of fire because they can spontaneously combust. Dispose of rags safely in two steps:

  1. Hang them outside to dry in a safe area or spread them out flat, making sure they are weighted down.
  2. They should not be in a pile. Once they are dry:
  • For those who use oily rags daily or weekly: place dry rags in a marked "oily waste" container to be emptied by a private contractor.
  • For less frequent users: store dry rags in a small, airtight, non-combustible (such as metal) container with a tight-fitting lid. An old paint can is a good example. Cover the rags completely with a solution of water and an oil breakdown detergent. Do not add any other combustible material.

Culture & Tourism

Children’s Beach Sunday Concerts are back!

Each Sunday evening, from 6 – 7:30 pm, a different performer(s) takes the stage at Children’s Beach. Concerts are scheduled through August 16 and include performances by Rebecca Chapa (7/26), 4 EZ Payments (8/2), Jordan Graves (8/9), and Susan J. Berman and Ray K. Saunders (8/16). Grab a lawn chair, a picnic, and your facial covering and head to the Bandstand for an enjoyable evening.

Rob and Jen Dunbar at the Children's Beach Night Concert kick off on July 12.

This Summer Ride The WAVE!

  • Mid-Island Loop: will continue to operate every 30 minutes (on the hour and half hour from town) daily from 7 am to 9:00 pm.
  • Miacomet Loop: Beginning June 22 buses will leave town every 20 minutes daily from 7 am to 9 pm.
  • Sconset via Old South Road Route: daily from 7:15 am to 9:15 pm. Buses will leave town at quarter after the hour, last bus from town 9:15 pm. Buses will leave Sconset at quarter of the hour from 7:45 am to 8:45 pm. The last bus leaves Sconset at 8:45 pm.
  • Madaket Route: will continue to operate on an hourly schedule daily from 7:00 pm to 9:20 pm. Buses will leave Broad Street on the hour the last bus leaves town at 9:00 pm. Buses will leave Madaket on the half hour. The last bus leaves Madaket at 9:20 pm.
  • Airport Route: beginning June 22 buses will operate daily 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Buses will leave town on the hour and Airport on the half hour. Last bus from the Airport is 5:30 pm. Last bus from town is 6:00 pm.

There will be no service to Surfside and Jetties Beaches per Order of the Governor. There will be no service on Sconset via Milestone Road or Sconset via Polpis Road.

Our Island Home backyard

Our Island Home

COVID Updates

We are pleased to announce that Our Island Home continues to have zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 and remains in compliance with the guidelines set forth by the Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

Testing

Per new DPH requirements, Our Island Home is currently in the process of testing all staff again for COVID-19. The results of this testing, combined with the level of regional transmission of COVID-19 cases will determine the manner in which long term care surveillance testing will be conducted in the future.

Saltmarsh Senior Center News

Though Saltmarsh Senior Center remains closed for in person activities, we are offering fantastic virtual options including nutrition classes, lectures and exercise classes. If you, or any seniors you know, are interested in learning more or signing up, please contact Laura Stewart, Program Coordinator at lstewart@nantucket-ma.gov or 508 228 4490.

Passport Service at Saltmarsh Senior Center

Passport services are resuming for in-person appointments as of Tuesday, July 21.

Thank you for reading the Town of Nantucket Monthly e-News. We hope you enjoyed it!
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