What's up in Town Administration?
2021 Annual Town Meeting
At its February 17, 2021 meeting, the Select Board adopted the June 5, 2021 Annual Town Meeting and Election Warrant. Town Meeting will start at 9:00 am on Saturday, June 5, with the annual town election following on Tuesday, June 15. We are in the process of preparing for the town meeting to be outdoors at the Backus Playing Field just off Backus Lane, behind the Elementary and Intermediate Schools. Due to the logistics of having the meeting outdoors, we are not planning to have any of the usual items projected on a screen. We will most likely be doing things the “old fashioned” way with no screen. As a result, we are doing our best to limit Technical Amendments to a bare minimum (hopefully to zero but sometimes things happen). We are planning on having e-voting, which was introduced at the 2020 annual town meeting. The Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on warrant articles on Monday, March 1st at 4pm; and throughout March, will be meeting to develop its motions. Here you can see the Finance Committee ATM and ATE timeline.
The warrant with the Finance Committee and Planning Board motions will be finalized by mid-April, 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 2021 Annual Town Meeting and Election warrant.
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, Instagram and Twitter.
Other activities with which Town Admin has been busy:
Sheep Pond Road: winter storms in January caused a partial collapse of a section of Sheep Pond Road which has impacted access to homes in the immediate area. We have pulled together a plan to allow for temporary access, while concurrently working on a longer-term plan with area residents. Any new access, temporary or otherwise, will necessitate the use of private property.
Solid waste long-term planning: at its March 3rd meeting, the Board will be getting an update on long-term planning for municipal solid waste processing. The Town recently issued a “Request for Expressions of Interest” to determine if there are qualified parties willing to submit future proposals for all or a portion(s) of solid waste processing for the Town – 12 Expressions of Interest were received and a report on this process will be reviewed and discussed at the Board’s meeting.
Plastics ban: enforcement of the plastics ban that was to have gone into effect in June of 2020 was suspended due to the COVID pandemic; we are now working to get back to reminding commercial businesses of what is banned.
On February 5th, the Town, and our consultant CDM Smith, completed a report of the first phase of work to develop a unified and proactive town-wide PFAS management plan focused on protecting the valuable groundwater resources of Nantucket. The report presents the initial island-wide assessment to identify potential and known PFAS sources and receptors focusing on Town facilities and provides a planning approach to Town-wide PFAS source control and reduction.
To help communicate and understand the movement of PFAS through our Island environment, the report provides a Nantucket-specific "PFAS Cycle" diagram. This provides a simple yet important visual representation of how PFAS moves from known contaminant sources, the associated transport mechanisms and migration pathways, and the potential receptors impacted by PFAS contamination (such as ground water, plants, humans, etc.). Known contamination sources identified in the report include the following:
PFAS in Domestic and Commercial Products: PFAS is present in many products used on a daily basis by the general population, as well as by commercial entities which in their natural course of business may be introducing PFAS to the environment. Transport mechanisms include: (a) wastewater received at the Wastewater Treatment Facility, (b) solid waste streams received by the landfill, (c) waste streams leaching from septic systems to groundwater, and (d) direct release to ground surface or a water body, which may result in contaminant migration to groundwater.
Certain Firefighting Foam at Nantucket Memorial Airport: As required by the Federal Aviation Administration there has been known use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) at the Airport for firefighting testing and training. Discharge of AFFF to the ground has resulted in PFAS entering the subsurface and impacting area domestic wells. Assessment as to the extent of the AFFF PFAS impacts is ongoing in accordance with the Massachusetts Contingency Plan under the regulatory authority of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Certain Firefighting Foam use by Nantucket Municipal Fire Department and at Fuel Storage Locations: To combat flammable liquid fires, the Fire Department stores AFFF for emergency use. Similarly, foam fire suppression systems at fuel storage facilities also store AFFF. In addition, the application of AFFF has been identified anecdotally for several past emergencies. Site assessments and documentation could be reviewed to assess impacts from known AFFF applications, releases or storage facilities.
The report provides a list of 16 recommended action items for the Town to consider in planning future work. The actions are identified within four areas of concentration:
- PFAS Sampling and Assessment
- Management Approaches to Facilitate Understanding of PFAS Presence
- Public Outreach Implementation
- Efforts Directed toward PFAS Source Reduction & Control
Of the 16 identified items, a few are already underway and confirm that we have been taking appropriate and timely action. Town Administration is working with CDM Smith and others to develop the scope, schedule and cost estimates for the recommended action items.
More detailed information can be found at our PFAS webpage. If you have questions or you need additional information, please email email@example.com.
- It’s pothole season! Send a service request to DPW for those potholes that are driving you crazy!
Nantucket's Efforts to Stop COVID-19
Vaccine Distribution Timeline
The vaccination program is being run by a combination of Hospital Staff and the local Health Department, with the Hospital operating the VFW clinic and managing the scheduling process. The Health Department is currently involved with homebound vaccinations for the infirm, assisting with enrollment procedures for community members and ensuring an equitable rollout of the vaccine to the most at risk Islanders. Moving forward, the Hospital and the Town will work to combat vaccine hesitancy and ensure a safe and vaccinated Island as quickly and effectively as possible.
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 Task Force has been meeting weekly since mid-January and recently sent a communication to island businesses about their work to date and how to be in touch with the group with questions, comments, or suggestions. The Task Force has a dedicated email – ACKtaskforce@nantucketchamber.org – and recently produced an episode of Small Business Updates on NCTV18 which can be watched on NCTV's YouTube Channel.
At its meeting on February 17th, the Select Board voted to award $153,500 to the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce to create a grant program for businesses to stabilize or grow as part of their recovery efforts from the economic impact of COVID 19. More information on the grant process will be available on the Chamber’s website – nantucketchamber.org -- in early March. Part of the funds for the grant to the Chamber came from a re-allocation of the funds that would have been used for the fireworks display July 2021.
Council for Human Services and Local Non-Profits Host Parenting Through Covid Forum
The Council for Human Services hosted a public forum called Parenting Through COVID on Friday February 12th via Zoom and YouTube. Representatives from a number of island human services agencies talked about the services that are available to support families struggling through the pandemic. Attendees were invited to ask questions and translation was offered in both Spanish and Portuguese.
The overall message was that there are many organizations ready and able to help and folks are invited to reach out for support. In order to make access to resources as easy as possible, people may contact the Family Resource Center where they will help you find the support that best suits you, including individuals, couples or a families.
Ride THE WAVE to the VFW Vaccination Center
Meet Your Town Volunteers
John Brescher, Town Government Study Committee and Real Estate Assessment Committee member.
How long have you lived on Nantucket? 13.5 years
Where are you from? New Jersey.
How did you come to live here? My parents rented a summer home in Madaket for years and then they purchased a home in the mid 1990s.
What is your job? I am an attorney.
How long have you served on Town committees? 4 years.
In how many committees have you served? I presently serve on the Town Government Study Committee and the Real Estate Assessment Committee. Prior to that, I was on the Conservation Commission for one term and worked as the Administrator for the Zoning Board of Appeals.
What interests you about serving in the Town that makes you want to be involved? I enjoy giving back to the community that I love. I studied Political Science in College and graduate school and I find the inner-workings of local government fascinating.
What is the most rewarding part about serving? Being able to give back and help the community.
What is the most challenging part? Reconciling the inherent challenges of bureaucracy with the interests of the community.
If you could change one thing about Town government, what would it be? I’d love to see more volunteers – and not just the same people; it would be nice to see new faces engaged in our community with new ideas and fresh energy.
What is your favorite spot on Nantucket? Anywhere I can explore with my kids!
Thank you for dedicating your time to volunteer for the Town, John!
Efforts to Increase Year-Round Housing
Nantucket Affordable Housing Trust and Housing Nantucket Join Forces to Create 22 Units of New SHI-Eligible Rental Housing
On Friday, February 12, 2021, the Affordable Housing Trust and non-profit Housing Nantucket finalized a new public-private partnership to help address the island’s urgent need for affordable, year-round rental housing.
The AHT provided Housing Nantucket with a grant of $3.6 MM to purchase land at 31 Fairgrounds Road and a loan of $6.75MM to develop 22 units of affordable year-round rental housing in the mid-island neighborhood. AHT funding sources include bonding authorizations from the 2019 Annual Town Meeting articles known as Neighborhood First and Community Preservation Committee. All 22 units will be eligible for inclusion on the Town’s Subsidized Housing Inventory (“SHI”).
Housing Nantucket entered into an agreement with local developer Billy Cassidy, who has already obtained Planning Board approval for the project through the flex development zoning bylaw. The approved plans detail one, two, and three bedroom apartments units all of which will be occupied by year-round residents at varying tiers of income qualification (between 30% and 200% of Area Median Income). Below-market rents will be calculated based on household income. The plan is for construction to be completed within the next 18 months.
“This project is truly a collaboration between the Trust, Housing Nantucket, Billy Cassidy and the Coffin family who have embraced the vision for this property to serve year-rounders for years to come,” noted Tucker Holland, Municipal Housing Director for the Town of Nantucket. “This development can contribute to an upcoming period of Safe Harbor, and moreover provide 22 Nantucket households with safe, stable, quality rental housing that is affordable to them. That is huge.”
Tenants for the property will be selected by lottery for six units at the 80% AMI level. The rest will be selected from Housing Nantucket’s Ready to Rent list at varying income levels below 200% AMI. Application materials include tax paperwork, proof of residency, income and asset verification and personal references.
Civic League on Sea Level Rise
On Saturday February 6, four Town staff presented at the Nantucket Civic League public forum called Managing Water as Sea Levels Rise. Town of Nantucket Coastal Resilience Coordinator Vince Murphy spoke on sea level rise and erosion and how that will change where water will be in coming decades. Town of Nantucket Manager of Strategic Projects Chuck Larson spoke on engineering solutions with sea level rise in mind, and using Easy Street as an example. Natural resources Director Jeff Carlson spoke about what a wetland is and the protections that they have. Water Resource Specialist Thais Fournier spoke about water quality in our harbors and programs for improvement. Other speakers included Civic League President Peter Morrison who gave an overview of last year’s Worcester Polytechnic Institute student project on flooding. Madaket resident Bill Grieder spoke on how flooding has impacted homeowners around the island and how sea level rise will increase these problems. Trevor Johnson, of Arcadis, the project manager for the Town's Coastal Resilience Plan (CRP) spoke on how the CRP will endeavor to improve resilience island-wide.
Thanks to the Civic League for the opportunity to present!
Resilient Nantucket: 2020 MVP Grant
On Friday, February 26th, the HDC will be reviewing the draft Resilient Nantucket: Designed for Adaptation - Design Guidelines with our consultant Phil Thomason from Thomason & Associates.
The draft Design Guidelines have been developed in accordance with the National Park Service's Standards on Flood Adaptation for Rehabilitation Historic Buildings published in 2019. Once completed Resilient Nantucket: Designed for Adaptation - Design Guidelines will be an addendum to the HDC's "Building with Nantucket in Mind."
Resilient Nantucket: Designed for Adaptation, is an Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Action Grant Project - developing a public awareness toolkit incorporating information on flooding adaptation strategies for private property owners in the Nantucket National Historical Landmark District, developing Design Guidelines for the Town of Nantucket’s locally-designated historic districts, and hosting Resilient Nantucket workshops to address flood risk, public awareness strategies and design guidance for adapting historic districts to a future of flooding. This project addresses several priority implementation actions identified and documented in the Town’s recently completed documents: the MVP Community Resilience Workshop Report (2019) and the Hazard Mitigation Plan (2019).
Culture & Tourism: Winter Activities
New (Virtual) Travel and Lodging Guide
Since the pandemic began last March, more and more potential visitors have been using and downloading the online version of the Travel and Lodging guide. This year, because we had such a large inventory of 2020 guides, we decided to design a new guide, but to only offer it in a digital fashion. You can find the new guide here. Individuals who do request a guide be mailed to them will receive a copy of the 2020 guide with a flowcode that takes the reader directly to the digital version for the most up-to-date information. The other advantage to the digital guide is that it allows us the ability to update information as needed.
Museum of African American History Nantucket Lecture Series
The Department of Culture and Tourism is delighted to sponsor this year’s Nantucket Lecture Series offered by the Museum of African American History through the Department’s Cultural Legacy Program. The six lectures offered in February, June, July, August, October, and November will be held virtually and are focused on topics related to Nantucket, the African Meeting House, and notable Nantucket African American figures. You can register for the talks at maah.org.
Nantucket Cultural District
Originally designated a Cultural District by the Massachusetts Cultural Council in January 2016, the District is up for re-designation in 2021. A workgroup has been organized to begin preparations for the re-designation process. The group has begun its work by addressing the District’s mission, crafting a marketing plan to promote the District, and reviewing the elements of the District’s event calendar. We anticipate convening a meeting of stakeholders and anyone interested in the Cultural District in the spring to review the work to date and next steps. If you haven’t used the Cultural District calendar to find out what’s going on with cultural organizations and cultural activity, you can find it here.
Public Works Updates
Textile Reuse & Recycling at TIOLI
DPW's first Textile Collection Event was a great success with close to 200 participants. Participants had everything from 2 pieces of clothing to 14 contractor bags full. We are grateful to everyone who participated. While we greatly look forward to the safe reopening of our beloved Take-It-or-Leave-It to allow islanders first dibs on items, these Textile Collection Events serve to divert the textiles from an off-island landfill to the Salvation Army in the interim. Upon receiving textiles from Nantucket, the Salvation Army distributes and sells the items that are in reusable condition and recycles the items that are not. Textile Collection Events will be held by the Take-It-or-Leave-It on the Third Sunday of the month-- mark your calendars for the next one on March 21st!
In the meantime, check out our new Take-It-or-Leave-It webpage to learn about the proposed improvements, upcoming Textile Collection Events, and other reuse opportunities of which you can take advantage.
"Plastic Water Bottles Banned: Now What" Virtual Meeting
Today, Thursday 25th, at 10:00 am, Recycling Coordinator Graeme Durovich will be speaking about plastic bottle bans at the "Care for Cape & Islands: Cape Plastic Bottles Banned! (Now What?)" virtual Zoom meeting. Dave Monast from Nantucket's Stop and Shop will also be a speaker at the meeting.
Natural Resources Department
- The Natural Resources Department’s Water Resource Specialist Thaïs Fournier recently participated in the Northeast Aquatic Plant Management Society virtual conference. This conference focused on Harmful Algal Blooms and emerging threats, as well as a three hour algal identification and ecology workshop. This information is pertinent to Nantucket’s Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Monitoring Program which monitors several ponds for HABs during the summer months with Nantucket Land Council, Nantucket Conservation Foundation, and Nantucket Land Bank. This information is used to keep our people and pets safe while recreating in and around Nantucket’s ponds.
- Additionally, Thaïs has partnered with the MA Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to assist in their HAB monitoring for Nantucket as part of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP). The NSSP is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) for the sanitary control of shellfish produced and sold for human consumption. The purpose of the NSSP is to promote and improve the sanitation of shellfish moving in interstate commerce through federal/state cooperation and uniformity of State shellfish programs.
- The 2019 Annual Water Quality Report for our harbors and ponds is now available online (it was delayed due to COVID). We are currently waiting on our 2020 report which should be released by this Spring (the report usually comes a year due to timing of sampling and processing).
- NRD staff has recently started up the seawater pumps and are culturing “live” algae within the hatchery to feed shellfish. There are four groups of broodstock (sexually mature oysters and bay scallops) that are being conditioned (feeding and acclimating to summer conditions) for the spawning season that begins in March. Hatchery repairs and ongoing maintenance has occupied most of the winter as the NRD team gears up for the busy season!
- NRD is also very excited to install our latest project with Morgan Raith that will allow for hatchery “walk -throughs” in the form of a self-guided tour while observing NRD scientists at work. These museum quality plaques and Morgan’s amazing graphics detail Nantucket’s shellfish history, NRD’s mission, and how shellfish are produced and used in restoration around the island.
- Lately eelgrass habitat is on the team's mind. With a rapidly changing environment, it is important to focus on the most prominent issues of water quality and habitat preservation. NRD scientists have been working hard to evaluate 2020’s eelgrass survey results to plan for the 2021 island-wide eelgrass survey which will include Madaket and Tuckernuck this fall (pending funding). The continuation of this long term data set will serve as an important guide for future restoration.
- NRD is working with the DPW now on the Sesachacha Pond Living Shoreline and Oyster Restoration project. Essentially the project will rebuild the wall protecting Polpis Road, build up vegetation in front of the wall to help protect the road from eroding during storm events, and install oyster castles which provide habitat to oysters as well as decrease wave energy generated by storms.
- NRD is also partnering with the Nantucket Conservation Foundation on an oyster restoration project at the mouth of Medioue Creek in Polpis Harbor. NCF is restoring the marsh there but due to an explosion in the population of the purple mud crab, marsh dieback is occurring. Literature suggests that oyster restoration can help improve marshes that are experiencing die back. This season, the team will be spawning oysters and setting larvae on eco-friendly concrete structures called oyster castles. The project is in the permitting stage and goes before the Conservation Commission in the next few weeks.
- Natural Resource seasonal jobs have recently been posted and the team is excited to see the applications for this season. NRD employees have a diverse season planned that involves shellfish production, restoration, water quality, habitat surveys, and lots of diving.
Our Island Home
Happy 100 Years Bea Santos!
For her 100 years, Bea had a birthday parade, the turnout was amazing! She felt the love from each and every one of you! Bea wants to thank those who sent cards, she received MANY and feels so blessed to be part of such a wonderful community!