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

What's up in Town Administration?

It is hard to believe that 2020 is here! We are well under way with a lot of projects, going into this new decade and year, including:

2020 Annual Town Meeting

The warrant for the Town Meeting is currently being finalized. The Select Board has been discussing warrant articles at least once per month since October and now weekly. The Board is scheduled to adopt the warrant at its meeting on January 22; the Finance Committee has been meeting with citizen warrant article sponsors and reviewing the citizen warrant articles for approximately a month; the FinCom starts its review of the proposed FY 21 General Fund budget on Saturday, January 18 and throughout the rest of January and February will work to finalize its motions for the articles by early March.

FY 2021 Budget & Capital Projects

Following its annual budget public hearing on January 8, 2020, the Board endorsed the proposed FY 21 General Fund budget and sent it on its way to the Finance Committee. Of note is a proposed operating override which would fund the growing deficit of Our Island Home and provide that operation with a stable funding source going forward. Please see our Budget Message for more information on this proposal. Regarding the Our Island Home facility, during 2019 we engaged an architectural firm to prepare a feasibility study as to what it would take to construct a new facility at the current site. After several discussions about the potential cost of such a project (estimated at $50,000,000), with the Board’s support, Town Administration has begun to explore alternative models of care and operation that would maintain or increase levels of care for our residents who need skilled nursing care. Nationally, the way in which elder care is being provided is under significant change: institutional models are going by the wayside in favor of modified, less expensive care models which provide, again, the same or better levels of care. Stay tuned on this as we explore options – we will certainly be periodically reporting our findings to the Board.

As noted above, throughout the rest of January and February, the FinCom will be reviewing all components to the budget including departmental requests and other annual appropriations. At its January 15 meeting, the Board will be reviewing proposed funding sources for FY 21 capital projects and there is a joint meeting scheduled with FinCom, Capital Program Committee and the Board on January 29 for the CapCom to present its final report on capital projects.

Madaket Water Quality

In 2016, following approval at a special town meeting but failure at the subsequent election for an $80,000,000 debt exclusion to fund a sewer extension project to Madaket (and other areas along the way), we engaged a firm to examine additional water quality modeling scenarios to determine if there may be less expensive options that would get us to where we need to be with water quality in Madaket. The study took about 12 months longer than expected but has now been received. It will be reviewed with the Board at its February 5 meeting. The basic conclusion? Extending sewer to Madaket is the most effective option for improving water quality. Following the later approval of the “Nantucket Harbor Shimmo – Plus” sewer extension project, we were advised by our engineers for that project that the $80,000,000 should be further reviewed and likely could be– depending on several factors –reduced significantly.

Other activities that Town Admin has been busy with include:

  • attending the January Cape Cod Manager’s meeting, where we talked about upcoming Town Meetings, collective bargaining negotiations, FY 21 budget outlooks, cybersecurity, whether municipal electric vehicles are trending (they are);
  • preparing to attend the Massachusetts Municipal Association annual conference and trade show in Boston the weekend of January 24 – the MMA conference is a great opportunity for town officials to network, talk with colleagues, learn about current events and issues of concern to municipalities and look at various services, equipment and technology;
  • at the request of the Director of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS), we will be participating in a “Leadership Messaging” webinar as related to cybersecurity issues; the Town is participating in the state’s Cybersecurity Awareness Grant program and all chief executives of the participating cities and towns have been requested to join one of several webinars being offered on this important topic.

Worth mentioning: at the Board’s January 8th meeting, under Public Comment, a citizen came in to comment on yard sale signage. Specifically, with respect to taking yard sale signs down promptly when yard sales are over and being responsible with what and how signage is posted for it. The citizen brought in samples of a recent grossly inappropriate display of yard sale signs encased in plastic, tacked up in numerous areas and also found blowing around in various intersections well after the event was over.

The Town does not have the resources to monitor, oversee or remove “expired” yard sale signs – please, if you are having a yard sale that involves signs:

  • refrain from multiple signs at the same location
  • refrain from encasing them in plastic
  • take them down promptly when your event is over
  • properly remove whatever you used to affix your sign (please do not use staples).

The public’s diligence with this is much appreciated.

Lastly, I would like to recognize an employee of the Town who is retiring this month and will be pursuing a new exciting opportunity with PASCON: Heidi Holdgate of Wannacomet Water.

Heidi began working for the Town in the Finance Department in June 1991 and later transferred to Wannacomet. Heidi is one of the friendliest, most professional, dedicated employees I have worked with. I have always respected and admired her positive, cheerful, “can do” attitude and will greatly miss her. Wannacomet is hosting a “drop in” at their (awesome) new building at 1 Milestone Road on Friday, January 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thank you Heidi and Best Wishes!

Nomination Papers for Annual Town Election Are Now Available

An applicant will need at least 53 signatures to get on the ballot for local elected positions. The applicant must be a registered voter to run for office. The nomination papers are due back on Tuesday, February 18 by 5 p.m. Annual Town Election is Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

Advice from the Town Chief Technology Officer on Cybersecurity

Local governments are hacked every day. Ransomware is on the rise and has affected hundreds of municipalities, several of which are in the New England area. Cybercriminals continually look for ways to break into public sector networks and their methods are increasingly sophisticated. Phishing emails now look very much like the real thing and it is difficult to discern what is legitimate and what may be a hacking attempt. The first line of defense for any organization is the person who sits behind the keyboard – ALL OF US.

In response to this growing threat, the Town is taking steps to increase cybersecurity awareness and provide training opportunities for employees.

The Town has also been awarded a grant to provide comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training. This program, run by the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS) is a collaboration between the Town and Nantucket Public Schools.

Protect your information, at work and at home.

Meanwhile, please take a moment to review the tips below for both your office and personal devices:

  • Review your password and reset it to a more secure format using at least 12 characters with a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. Change your password regularly and NEVER share it with anyone – especially electronically.
  • Be observant when opening and responding to email – especially from senders you do not know or if something does not look quite right. Always err on the side of caution. NEVER, EVER open, respond to or click on a link or attachment in an email you are not 100% sure about.
  • Always lock your computer when you step away from your desk.
  • Always log out of your computer at the end of the day.

Taylor Hilst is our New Human Services Director

Nantucket native Taylor Hilst began working for the Town of Nantucket in April 2015 as the Activities Director of Our Island Home. Taylor is passionate about behavioral health, working with older adults and serving the town. Taylor completed her undergraduate studies at New York University where she studied psychology, and earned her Master’s in clinical social work from Fordham University. Taylor is a Licensed Certified Social Worker and certified Activities Director, and prior to her employment with the Town she worked in the mental health field for Fellowship Health Resources, Arbour Counseling Services and Fairwinds Counseling Center. Outside of work, Taylor enjoys Nantucket’s wonderful beaches and restaurants, and volunteering for the Nantucket Preservation Trust. Congratulations Taylor!

2020: Annual Town Census and Federal Census

Annual Town Census... or the Street Listing

The Annual Town Census, or “Street Listing” form is sent out annually in January by the Nantucket Town Clerk’s Office, per Massachusetts General Law. The Annual Town Census should not be confused with the Federal Decennial Census, which is conducted every ten years – 2020 being a Federal Census year.

Nantucket’s 2020 Census Complete Count Committee urges you to “Stand Up and Be Counted”.

The US Census Bureau will begin mailings to all residences in March. Everyone counts, and everyone can participate, either by mail OR online OR by phone. It’s a short 9-question form, and it matters to you, and to your Nantucket community. Spread the word!

This money is for programs such as:

  • Free and reduced lunch in island schools
  • Special Education grants
  • Head Start/ Early Head Start
  • SNAP
  • Section 8 housing
  • Title I grants for education
  • Medicare and Medicaid
  • MassHealth
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program

Census data is confidential. Per the U.S. Census Bureau, your personal information is protected by federal law and is never released to any other local, state, or federal agencies, including law enforcement, DHS, ICE, etc. (Title 13 of the U.S. Code). The U.S. Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, bank account number, or money of any kind.

If your residence does not receive a Census form before April 1, and you need help to complete the Census online or by phone, please contact: nantucketcensus@nantucket-ma.gov.

Island-Wide Efforts to Protect Nantucket’s Ecosystem

The Single-Use Plastics Ban is Just a Few Months Away (June 1, 2020)

Nantucket’s single-use plastics ban prohibits these single-use petroleum-based plastic products from being commercially used, sold or distributed:

Do you have a business and are not sure if you will be able to comply with this bylaw? Email us at ackplasticsban@nantucket-ma.gov and schedule an audit of your inventory.

News from the Board of Health

Nantucket Increases Purchasing Age to 21 for Tobacco Products

The Select Board which also acted as the Board of Health in 1999, passed on March 31, 1999 Regulation 72 in response to the rise in awareness that secondhand smoke is detrimental to health. Of particular concern is the workplace environment of nonsmokers, where they may be subjected to sustained, involuntary exposure. At special risk are children, the elderly, individuals with cardiovascular disease, and individuals with impaired respiratory function, including asthmatics and those with obstructive airway disease. Therefore this regulation limited areas where secondhand exposure can happen. In 2018, it was amended to increase the purchasing age to 21 in response to the increasing trend of vaping in youth.

Regulation 73, Prohibition of smoking on Town of Nantucket owned recreation areas, was passed in May of 2015 to expand the reaches of the smoke free workplace law and regulation 72 to beaches, parks, playgrounds, parking areas and all connected areas. This was in response to increased smoking in parks around the island and in response to a large of amount of complaints regarding smoking on beaches.

A Reminder from the Public Works Department

Streets that have been repaired throughout the winter months include:

  • Sparks Avenue at Boys and Girls Club; West Chester near Animal Hospital; Washington Street; Cherry Street at Pleasant; Crooked Lane; Fairgrounds between Ticcoma Drive and the New Fire Station; 61 Lovers Lane; Madaket Road between the Public Works Administration offices and the landfill; 29 Miacomet Avenue; Miacomet Road; 10 Monohansett Road; North Liberty Street near catch Basin between Gingy Lane & West Chester; Okorwaw Avenue at Skyline Drive; Orange Street at West Creek; 51 Pleasant Street; 10 Polliwog Pond Road/entire Road; 1 Polpis between Bassett Road and Quaise Road; Roberts Lane.

News from the Natural Resources Department

Last week, the Hatchery started back up for the 2020 season. Algae production started a few weeks ago and today the oyster broodstock is back at the hatchery to start the conditioning processes. This means adult oysters are cleaned and put in tanks for 6-8 weeks. Adult oysters are tricked into "believing" it is spring time when they are placed in water temperature at a constant 68F, photoperiod of 16 hours on and 8 hours off, and feeding them every 3 hours. During this time, the oyster develops its gonads (egg and sperm) so that biologists can spawn them 4 to 5 months earlier than in the wild. All oysters grown at the hatchery are either used for broodstock in the following years or brought to the Shimmo Creek oyster restoration site.

In 2019 the Town’s Shell Recycling Program “Shuck It for Nantucket” recycled 56,959 pounds of oyster and quahog shells! That is 10,000 more pounds than last year. Assistant Biologist Leah Cabral is currently still picking up shells from 5 of the 30 participating restaurants and will continue through the winter as long as oysters/quahogs are being served.

Coffee with a Cop

Last Thursday, January 9, Chief of Police William Pittman was at The Beet meeting with Nantucket residents as part of the nation-wide Coffee with A Cop event.

"I appreciated the opportunity to meet with members of the community and talk about things that the NPD can do to make their lives better. The Police Department wants to thank Amy Young and everyone at The Beet for making this wonderful restaurant available for us to meet with the public. We hope to host more Coffee with A Cop events in the near future,” said Chief Pittman after the event.

Coffee with A Cop was launched in Hawthorne, California in 2011 when officers from the Hawthorne Police Department were looking for ways to interact more successfully with the citizens they served each day. Now Coffee with A Cop events are held in all 50 states and is one of the most successful community oriented policing programs across the country. The program has also expanded to outside the United States to Canada, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Latin America. The key to Coffee with a Cop’s growing success is that it opens the door for interactions outside of the crisis situations that typically bring law enforcement officers and community members together.

News from the Fire Department

Firefighters welcomed some of the first group tours of the new fire station in December beginning with 13 children from the Exploration Station Preschool. The group was able to see the new building as well as learn some important fire safety tips. Later in the month we welcomed two groups from the Saltmarsh Senior Center. We spoke about fire and life safety during the tour and the group had some great questions about the new building and equipment.

Fire Department 2019 in Numbers:

During 2019, the Fire Department answered 4221 phone calls of which:

  • 81 were related to fires;
  • 64 to technical rescue/services;
  • 919 to fire prevention;
  • 1499 to fire alarms;
  • and 1472 to emergency medical services.

Thank you, Nantucket firefighters for the hard work you do 24/7, 365 days a year!

Have you taken a tour of Nantucket's state-of-the-art sewer facilities yet?

The Nantucket Sewer Department, as part of its public outreach and education initiative, provides tours to individual visitors and to groups of all ages. During the tour, you will learn how Nantucket handles and treats wastewater by touring our facilities and seeing the process first-hand.

Finance Department employees Allie Penta and Rebecca Woodley-Oliver taking a tour.

Fall and Winter Activities - Recommendations from the Office of Culture and Tourism

Winter Guide

Nantucket is quietly spectacular and delightfully peaceful in the winter months! A place to relax, explore, reflect, meet interesting people and enjoy the activities that create our community feel. Take a look at the Culture & Tourism Winter Guide.

You still have time to stop by Visitor Services to pick up your Blue Planet Bingo card!

Blue Bingo is a fun game to learn about ways to be environmentally friendly. Complete a row across, down, or diagonal and return it to win a prize. The game will continue as long as cards and prizes last.

The WAVE Runs Year-Round!

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