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

What's up in Town Administration?

This time of year we are busy initiating preparations for the upcoming Annual Town Meeting and budget development for the next fiscal year. This involves scheduling dozens of meetings, looking at what has come up since or before the last town meeting with respect to potential warrant articles; economic indicators; and numerous other factors and emerging information for both the town meeting and the budget.

2021 Annual Town Meeting and Town Election

Mark your calendars:

  • Monday, April 5th – 2021 Annual Town Meeting will start (at 6:00 pm)
  • Tuesday, April 13th – 2021 Annual Town Election

We have prepared a timeline for the above and are starting to prepare a preliminary outline for potential warrant articles. The Select Board will kick off an initial discussion about warrant articles at its October 14 meeting.

Note regarding Citizen Warrant Articles: If you are a citizen whose article was called at the June 25, 2020 ATM but not voted on, it will automatically be 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. If you are considering submitting a Citizen Article, please refer to the attached guidance.

FY 2022 General Fund Budget

The Director of Municipal Finance and I reviewed FY 22 preliminary General Fund budget projections with the Finance Committee on September 14th and with the Select Board on September 16th. We expect – at least at this point – that FY 22 will be a difficult budget year due to uncertainty surrounding COVID19 and its impacts on the economy at the national, regional and local levels. We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best. We do not expect to initiate much in the way of new programs or staffing, in fact it is entirely possible that we may have to look at those areas for potential reduction. We are closely watching economic indicators such as the local real estate market, local receipts, state aid, interest rates, unemployment and other signs as to what FY 22 might “look like”. We are also acutely aware of the fact that we reduced our current budget (FY 2021) at the 2020 Annual Town Meeting and thus did not fund several new positions that would have helped further items in the Board’s Strategic Plan, including downtown parking management, and efficient town operations with respect to public works activities and associated staffing needs.

Our Island Home

As part of an effort begun in late spring to develop a definitive long-term plan for the OIH facility, as noted in last month’s e-newsletter, over the summer 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, held 5 stakeholder forums to obtain input from employees, family members, Our Island Home residents and the general public on all of these items. The input was gathered directly into a report which will be reviewed with the Select Board at its October 14 meeting.

Third Sewer Force Main Project

A presentation on this project was given at the Select Board’s September 9, 2020 meeting. The Board voted to proceed with Option 2A. Visit the project website for more information.



On September 1, 2020 Wannacomet Water Company sampled all 5 wells for PFAS compounds in anticipation of pending regulatory initiatives being proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). PFAS testing is not required at this time by Massachusetts Drinking Water Regulations (310 CMR 22), this was voluntary action taken by the Town and Water Company.

Results returned on September 16, 2020 indicated that no PFAS compounds were detected above proposed drinking water standards. Only two water wells measured any PFAS above the laboratory detection limits. They are as follows:

20 Parts per trillion for the total allowable concentration for up to six specific PFAS which includes PFOA. Only PFOA was detected in the samples that have been collected and analyzed. Currently this PFAS Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) exists as a MassDEP Office of Research and Standards Health “Advisory” Level.

MassDEP guidelines require a second confirmatory sample be collected. It is unusual to find only a single PFAS compound present when there is a source of groundwater contamination. Therefore, follow-up confirmatory samples are being taken from wells 13 and 15 by the Wannacomet Water Company. The confirmatory samples will be sent to two independent, EPA approved laboratories for further analyses. Results will be provided when they become available.

More information on PFAS compounds may be found here and is provided by MassDEP. If you have further questions regarding the Wannacomet Water Company and its testing, you may contact 508-228-0022 or wannacomet@nantucket-ma.gov.

The Town has begun an initial island-wide assessment of where PFAS compounds may be a contaminant. The Town hired CDM Smith, an environmental consultant, and will develop an initial risk assessment of potential sources contributing to PFAS contamination. This project started in mid-August and this initial assessment is planned to be complete in October. If you have any questions about this, please contact PFAS@nantucket-ma.gov or find updated information here.


Needless to say, the COVID19 Global Pandemic continues. We are seeing signs in our own community of what one might call “COVID Fatigue” with people drifting from established safety protocols when they independently decide the protocols are not needed. As a result we had two surges in cases in September. Safety protocols are in place for a reason. We cannot overemphasize the need to follow them and maintain them. The need for protocols won’t last forever. But it most likely will last a few more months. We need to do our best to keep the vulnerable people in our community safe; and, keep our Hospital from becoming overwhelmed with cases. We are not out of the woods on this. We are working on ways in which to reinforce, refresh and “reinvigorate” this message. The Nantucket Cottage Hospital and the Town’s Health & Human Services department are collaborating on The COVID Grief Project, a way in which to remind people how becoming lax with vigilance can lead to devastating results – results which have affected people in our community, directly.

Coastal Resiliency Interim Policy

While the Town’s Coastal Resiliency Advisory Committee works with a consultant to develop a Coastal Resiliency Plan, the Committee put forth an interim recommendation for applicable Town projects commencing after August, 2020. We have disseminated the policy and our Coastal Resilience Coordinator Vincent Murphy will work with departments on this as needed.

Moving On

Deborah Dilworth, the Town’s Assessor for 37 years, retired at the beginning of September. She was recognized by me and by the Board at the Board’s September 9th meeting. Click here to view the Tribute to her. Deb did a fantastic job for the Town – she was (is) well recognized across the state as an expert in her field and also taught assessing classes for municipal officials for many years, on behalf of the Commonwealth. Deb has always been readily available for questions, assistance and advice. I will miss her but she has assured me that I can call her if needed! Thank you Deb, and best wishes!

Debbie Dilworth on her last day at work.

Deb’s replacement is Robert Ranney who has extensive experience with Nantucket real estate and has worked in the Assessor’s office for the past 3 years. We look forward to working with him.

I also wish to recognize Geno Geng, founder of GenoTV. He is leaving Nantucket after 34 years. Geno operated GenoTV with various changes in channels and names over the years, but always with the same philosophy – to bring information to our community, topics of human interest, promote local business and local culture. He and I did a weekly program called “What’s Going on in Town Government?” for many years. Geno also taped the Select Board and other Town meetings for many years – well before NCTV was established. I will miss our “banter” during our weekly show – he made me laugh so many times and sometimes, eh, I had trouble composing myself! Geno: Thank You and Good Luck with your future endeavors. keep in touch!

2020 Elections

November 3rd General Election Deadlines & Information

Early Voting

IN PERSON: from Saturday, October 17 through Friday, October 30, 2020 (includes two Saturdays and Sundays). at Town Hall, 16 Broad Street, Nantucket, MA. WEAR A MASK.

  • Mondays to Fridays: 9 am to 3 pm.
  • Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18 from 9 am to 1 pm.
  • Saturday, October 24: 2 pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm. (This is also the Voter Registration Deadline for November 3rd Election. Voter Registration may be done in person during these hours or online).
  • Sunday, October 25: 9 am to 1 pm.


  • Vote by mail application.
  • Return: by mail: Town Clerk's Office, 16 Broad Street, Nantucket, MA or by dropbox: 16 Broad Street, outside Main Entrance (no postage necessary if placed in Dropbox).
  • If you vote via email you can TRACK YOUR BALLOT.

Election Day

  • When? Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020: 7 am to 8 pm.
  • Where? Nantucket High School, 10 Surfside Road. Voting booths will be set up socially distantly and school will not be in session that day. WEAR A MASK.

US Census Bureau

The US Census response deadline continues to be subject to change and is currently set for October 5th. That said, your response is still possible, so just do it, if you haven’t yet!

The United States Census Bureau counts housing units as well as people, so all full time and seasonal households on Nantucket need to be counted. You can do so online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or with the help of a 2020 Census taker. It can be done online in 13 languages, and guides are available in 59 languages. Do it for you, for your family, and for all of us on Nantucket, to make sure the island’s fair share of federal aid returns here for vital community services.

There has been a lot of confusion about the Census, made more complicated and urgent by the public health crisis. Here are some important things to know:

  • There is no question on the Census form about citizenship or immigration status. No personally identifying information collected by the Census Bureau can be shared with any other government department or law enforcement agency – federal, state, or local.
  • Census statistics are used to determine federal funding for our community and Congressional representation and Electoral College votes for Massachusetts for the next ten years. Some of that federal funding is likely to be directed to post-pandemic economic recovery for cities and towns.

Additionally, there have been a number of changes to the Census operational calendar, due to Covid. Most recently, under a preliminary injunction (PI) issued in Federal court on September 24th, the government cannot use the September 30 cutoff deadline, because this deadline was found to not be the product of reasoned decision-making. As such, the previous deadline (October 31) went back into effect. The judge also applied the PI to the December 31 deadline for reporting Census statistics.

Late on Monday September 28, the Census Bureau also announced that it plans to conclude self-response (online, by phone, and by mail) and field (Census taker) operations on October 5. In response, the same Federal judge ordered the government to provide records – by Tuesday afternoon – that explain the Census Bureau's reasoning for the new October 5 deadline. The court is currently reviewing the information and expects to make a determination by Friday, October 2, as to whether the government has violated the PI.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital on Flu Season

Flu shots for the entire family

Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine, and this year the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is requiring the influenza vaccine for all children 6 months of age or older who are attending Massachusetts child care, pre-school, and K-12 schools.

Save time by getting your flu shot safely and conveniently at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital drive-through. No appointment is necessary, and flu shots can be provided at no out of pocket cost with most insurance plans.

The COVID Grief Project

Collectively memorializing our grief: Exploring COVID-related loss in the Nantucket community

Grief is complicated. It can make us feel alone, feel crazy, out of control, and certain that bad things will continue to happen. The COVID19 pandemic is unprecedented, and the depth and breadth of grief people are experiencing is unfathomable. Some losses, like the death of a loved one, are easy to name. Other losses, like the loss of hugging your mom, on not catching up with your co-workers in the breakroom may be harder to articulate. We might feel guilty for thinking about these things as loss, and we might even feel embarrassed or ashamed for feeling sad, anxious or numb when we think about them.

In our experience, acknowledging loss and sharing this experience with others can help us with our grief. So the Nantucket Cottage Hospital Social Services Department and the Town of Nantucket Health & Human Services Department want to hear from you: what did you lose because of COVID19? Maybe it was….

  • Income
  • A family member
  • A second date
  • Seeing your grandchildren
  • First day of school pictures
  • A job opportunity

Send us a story, collage, or image that describes your loss to nantucketcovidgrief@gmail.com.

Some tips for submission: be brief, be legible, be creative! We will publish a selection of submissions on the hospital’s website and include them in our on-going public health campaign to fight the spread of COVID19. We reserve the right to edit or refuse to publish any content.

Last days of summer at Surfside Beach

Vineyard Wind and Nantucket Announce Community Partnership

Vineyard Wind, the Town of Nantucket, and leading Island nonprofits have announced plans to create The Nantucket Offshore Wind Community Fund, which will support local initiatives to combat the effects of global climate change, enhance coastal resiliency, and protect, restore, and preserve Nantucket’s cultural and historic resources.

Nantucket Efforts to End the Housing Crisis

Affordable Housing Trust Seeking to Buy Properties For Neighborhood First Program

Building on its recent acquisition of 135 + 137 Orange Street, the Nantucket Affordable Housing Trust has issued a Request For Proposals under its “Neighborhood First” program seeking additional scattered site 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 it to 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 date, $2.5 million of the $20 million authorized under Article 37 at the 2019 Annual Town Meeting, and at the ballot box that same year, has been spent. Neighborhood First was approved by the voters first and foremost to maintain Safe Harbor from unfriendly 40B’s, as well as to foster affordable housing on scattered sites. The Neighborhood First Advisory Committee developed three strategies for the deployment of these funds which have been unanimously embraced by the Affordable Housing Trust and the Select Board: Multiple Pocket Developments, Buy-down of Existing Year-Round Rentals, and Dispersed Site Purchases & Development. The RFP is part of executing the Dispersed Site strategy.

A Public Information Session regarding the RFP was held via Zoom and live broadcast on NCTV18. Here are a few of the questions (and answers) that came from that session as well as questions e-mailed to the Procurement Office to date.

Q: If we have multiple properties and would like to submit more than one property for consideration under the program, do we submit one master proposal or a proposal for each property?

A: If someone were to own multiple properties they would like considered, they need to submit a proposal for each property. For each property, please submit a separate and complete application.

Q: I understand that one can sell their property to the Land Bank for less than fair market value (“bargain sale”) and potentially take a tax benefit. Would the same principal and opportunity apply here?

A: First and foremost, we recommend that a seller who is considering selling the property as a bargain sale should seek advice from their tax advisor(s). With that noted, Town Counsel has indicated that the Affordable Housing Trust will be eligible to sign IRS Form 8283 which states that the Town is a qualified organization to receive the donated property and acknowledges that it received it at a specific price on a specific date, namely the delivery of the deed to the property. The Affordable Housing Trust does not make any representations on IRS Form 8283 as to the appraised value of the property as this form is signed by the independent appraiser. Also, the Affordable Housing Trust is neither responsible for engaging the appraiser nor the cost for the appraisal. This is the sole responsibility of the seller at his or her cost and expense. This Form applies to all non-cash donations, so it is applicable to property with buildings thereon and not just open space or conservation land. The Affordable Housing Trust is not responsible for and does not make any representations as to whether the donation will be approved by the IRS for a charitable deduction and does not make any representations as to whether the IRS will require any additional documentation in order to qualify for a charitable deduction. Again, we recommend consulting with your tax professional.

Q: For someone not in the business of buying and selling real estate, should they be working with a realtor, should they be seeking professional advice in considering a response to the RFP?

A: When you are submitting a proposal, you are in effect offering a binding arrangement to sell if the Trust were to accept what you are proposing. In general, it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice. The proposer needs to consider the legal ramifications of making a proposal. With that said, it is a personal decision as to whether an individual would like to see professional advice or not.

Proposals are due Thursday, October 22nd by 10:00 a.m. You may register for the RFP by going to the “RFP for SHI Eligible Rental Housing” which may be found on the Bids and Proposals Posted page under Procurement on the Town website. It is important to register if you are thinking of putting in a proposal. By registering, you will receive any updates and addenda to the RFP. Note that by registering, you are not obligated to submit a proposal.

Inquiries may be made by e-mailing: procurement@nantucket-ma.gov. Following the receipt of proposals, a seven-member review committee will evaluate the properties according to the criteria contained in the RFP and make recommendations to the Affordable Housing Trust and Select Board for potential acquisitions.

Culture & Tourism

Visitor Services Weekly Restaurant List

For many years, Visitor Services has compiled a weekly list of open restaurants. This list is not intended to compete with other restaurant guides or lists. Restaurant List copies are available at 25 Federal Street and on our webpage. A new list is posted each Monday and can be updated multiple times a week as needed.

This year, we have noticed a profound shift in the popularity of downloading the Restaurant List. Previously, the download average was 1,500-2,500 per month in the winter and trailed off in the summer months once people arrived and the restaurants were open. Starting in January 2020 the download rate was nearly double that of January 2019. The monthly downloads increased exponentially with the arrival of COVID19, the lockdowns, and eventual reopening of the island in late May/early June. The list peaked at 16,662 hits in June.

The restaurant list is divided into two sections: Regular Tableside Service and Takeout. Both sections include the name of the establishment, the address, phone number and what meal is served or hours open. This year, in mid/late March, and all of April, restaurants were closed for walk in/tableside service due to state COVID19 guidelines but were able to offer curbside pickup (takeout) and/or delivery. The list was revised to include as much detail as possible about how to order. When restaurants reopened in mid-May with outdoor seating and eventually adding limited indoor dining in June, the list was revised again to reflect Indoor (with outdoor seating), Outdoor Only and Takeout and also included information such as specific online ordering and pickup instructions.

The following chart is a comparison of the restaurant list downloaded monthly in 2019 and 2020:

This information was reviewed by the Visitor Services Advisory Committee on September 16th and the following observations were made:

  • The increase could be indicative of prospective visitors doing research on restaurant availability prior to booking a room or rental house;
  • The high use of the restaurant list indicates the value of restaurants to the overall Nantucket experience;
  • The restaurant list’s up-to-date information is highly valued.

Island-Wide Efforts to Protect Nantucket’s Ecosystem

Resilient Nantucket: 2020 MVP Forum I: “Resilient Nantucket-Preparing your Historic Property for a Future of Rising Seas”

Through an Action Grant obtained from the Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program, the Town of Nantucket held a community forum called “Resilient Nantucket-Preparing your Historic Property for a Future of Rising Seas” via Zoom Webinar on September 18th at 11:30am and 6:00pm. The Town of Nantucket was pleased to provide a panel of expert adaptation professionals in order to learn more about flood adaption strategies, disaster preparedness, adaptation planning and community resilience. We had Sarah White, the State Hazard Mitigation Officer from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), Shannon Hulst, Floodplain Manager for Barnstable County and Woods Hole Sea Grant, and Flood Specialist, Joe Rossi, from RogersGray Insurance and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Coastal Coalition. This event was postponed from March due to the COVID pandemic.

This was the first of three community forums and planning charrettes to be scheduled in an effort to develop Design Guidelines for the locally designated historic districts and public awareness toolkit incorporating information on flood adaptation strategies for private property owners within the Nantucket National Historic Landmark District. For further information on this important initiative, please contact Preservation Planner, Holly Backus at hbackus@nantucket-ma.gov.

Climate Change Awareness Month

On September 9th the Select Board adopted a proclamation to make September Climate Change Awareness Month here on Nantucket. The proclamation was a joint effort between the Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee (CRAC) and ACKlimate. CRAC is a Town committee appointed by the Select Board, with staff assistance through the Natural Resources Department, tasked with assisting in developing a Coastal Resilience Plan. ACKlimate describes itself as “A public-private partnership dedicated to adapting Nantucket and other communities to a changing climate and rising seas through local and global engagement.” Both groups have created awareness of climate issues though the month and in particular sea level rise, which is one of the most pressing problems facing Nantucket in the long term. Both groups are working to improve the resilience of Nantucket and increase the longevity of the island.

News from the Natural Resources Department

  • This month, Natural Resources will be finishing this summer season's water quality sampling and monitoring for Sesachacha, Hummock, Long, and Miacomet Ponds as well as Nantucket and Madaket Harbor. Staff will also be retrieving multiparameter water quality sondes that are located in the Head of the Harbor and Polpis Harbor which take hourly readings of pH, salinity, chlorophyll (proxy for phytoplankton), dissolved oxygen, and temperature (they record data from June-Sept).
  • In September, NRD staff (along with PhD candidate and former intern Stephen Heck) completed a habitat and shellfish stock assessment for all of Nantucket Harbor. The group dived 39 sites and the information collected will be added to the long term monitoring data that is key for evaluating changes in the environment related to water quality, habitat, and shellfish stocks. This information will also allow the team to compare this season to last season and study any ecological improvements discovered. These surveys will also allow NRD to be proactive in seed management before the commercial season starts in hopes to prevent strandings.

Public Works Updates

Hazardous Waste Collection September Event

This was a record setting event! 226 vehicles attended the Hazardous Waste Collection Event on September 19th (commercial 12/ household 213/ town 1). The line of cars was continuous from 8:30am to 12:00pm. Surprisingly, the amount of commercial vehicles was similar to previous events but a staggering increase in household vehicles. This is the largest volume of waste collected since April 2018.

The next event will be on Saturday, October 24th. Here you can find more information about the Hazardous Waste Events.

Roadside Improvements

  • Winter Street project: connecting two catch basins for pipe drainage system at Liberty Street in order to properly drain the low point of Main Street at the Main/Winter intersection.
  • Main Street cobblestone repairs: fixing potholed areas of cobblestones.

Saltmarsh Senior Center News

Saltmarsh Senior Center Drive-Thru Coffee and Muffin Event on Tuesday, September 29!

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