It was a year in which nothing happened in its usual manner and most things happened anyway. On Jan. 9 the World Health Organization announced a “mysterious” pneumonia in Wuhan, China, and in late January the CDC confirmed the first U.S. case and issued a global health emergency. But in the beginning, we were still innocent of what was to come.
Steamboat Wharf Marina owners Justin Gould and Andrew Spinale got the go-ahead from the Planning Board to open a new seasonal marina restaurant – Red Sky – in the former Lobster Express space.
The water system serving Hull, Hingham, and part of Cohasset announced that it would have a new name when the transition of ownership from the Aquarion Water Co. to the town of Hingham was finalized. The Hingham Board of Selectmen chose the name Weir River Water System from more than 70 suggestions put forward by water customers from among the three towns.
The Hull Sewer Department’s rehabilitation of the sewer beneath Nantasket Avenue moved onto its fourth of six phases. Traffic along Nantasket Avenue between N Street and Fitzpatrick Way would be impacted.
After months of lengthy conversations about what hours the community walking track should be open to the public and when it should be lit, the School Committee approved the gate remaining unlocked all day seven days a week, with hours of use to be 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. The committee unanimously supported lighting the field seven days a week.
The new owner of the former Atlantic Aquarium in Hull filed papers indicating that its plans for the location included a marijuana-related business. Within days of forming the real estate firm Latitude 42 Real Estate LLC in Hull, Sean Power registered Latitude 42 Therapeutics LLC with the Massachusetts secretary of state’s office. Power had purchased the property for $900,000 in December 2019.
Middle School Principal Anthony Hrivnak announced a stellar performance by students on the latest round of the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, administered the previous October. Middle school students have outscored the state and national averages for the past three years.
The Board of Selectmen appointed candidates to the 100% Clean Energy Climate Action Committee approved at the 2019 town meeting. Judeth Van Hamm, Jacob Vaillancourt, Lucinda Wykle-Rosenberg, Rick Matilla, Bruce Edgren, and Constance Gorfinkle were appointed to serve one-year terms.
The Board of Selectmen denied telecom company ExteNet’s application to install small wireless service facilities at three Beach Avenue locations to fill a reported gap in service – the second time that the board denied the company a grant of location.
An empty bullet shell casing discovered by a school janitor prompted a brief lockdown of Hull’s Memorial Middle School as police investigated. Members of the department emphasized that at no time were the school’s students in any danger. After a specialized K-9 unit swept the school and no additional casings were found, the shelter-in-place order was lifted.
A judge granted the town’s motion for a preliminary injunction to have a boathouse owned by Michael McDevitt removed from his property until all the necessary permits were obtained. The town claimed that McDevitt did not obtain a building permit to move the boathouse onto his property in July 2019 and that the building’s presence was in violation of the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act.
A large attendance at an Age-Friendly Community forum at the Council on Aging drew attention to the fact that Hull residents over the age of 60 comprise about 33 percent of the town’s year-round population.
A total of 26 species of birds were reported as seen around the Nantasket Beach area, including the rare king eider, a species that rarely leaves the Arctic Circle.
The Drowned Hogs stormed Nantasket Beach on their annual ocean swim to raise funds for Wellspring. Preceded by the Drowned Hogs ball and followed by the Soup & Chowder Fest, the swim attracted the usual assortment of the brave and the costumed, including the entire Addams Family.
The School Committee voted unanimously to place Superintendent Michael Devine on paid administrative leave after allegations of personal misconduct. Earlier, the committee had announced that Devine had taken a leave of absence in the wake of the allegations. The committee retained an independent outside investigator who would conduct a review of the allegations. Assistant School Superintendent Judith Kuehn assumed the role of acting superintendent.
Town officials confirmed that Department of Public Works Director James Dow had been terminated from his position. No reasons for the termination were provided.
Selectmen approved the town’s Unified Work Plan, a strategy for short- and long-term implementation of earlier plans to improve and revitalize the Nantasket Beach area.
Alternative Compassion Services held a community outreach meeting and offered assurances about safety precautions to be taken at its medical marijuana dispensary, slated to be located at 175 George Washington Blvd. at the former Java Jungle coffee shop site in Hull’s town meeting-approved Marijuana Overlay District. Later in the month, after securing the approval of the Planning Board, the company announced that it would seek an operator’s license from the state Cannabis Control Commission in anticipation of opening the facility by Sept. 1.
Town Manager Philip Lemnios presented a $44.9 million fiscal 2021 budget proposal, representing a $1.98 million – or 4.61 percent – increase over the 2020’s $42.9 million budget. The proposed operating budget included $11.18 million for general government and $16.12 million for the schools.
Town Clerk Lori West was presented with the prestigious Certified Massachusetts Municipal Clerk (CMMC) designation at the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association winter conference. Only 122 of the 301 town clerks in the commonwealth have qualified for the advanced CMMC certification.
Hull was awarded a $25,373 climate change resiliency grant through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program. The grant was secured by Conservation Administrator Chris Krahforst and would be used to assess shoreline resiliency alternatives along Marginal Road.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority notified school officials that the $46,000 approved at the 2019 town meeting to pay for a required feasibility study for repairs to the middle school should be more in the range of $400,000. The School Committee and Board of Selectmen would ponder next steps.
Safe Harbor Marinas, owner of nearly 100 marinas nationwide, purchased the A Street marina for an undisclosed price. The two-acre property includes 161 wet slips and a 250-seat restaurant and event space, as well as on-site service and repair and winter storage.
With liquor, common victualer, and entertainment licenses in hand, Steamboat Wharf Marina owners Justin Gould and Andrew Spinale hoped to open their new seasonal restaurant – Red Sky at Steamboat Wharf – by May 1, the official start of the boating season.
Students at the Jacobs Elementary School read for 205,111 minutes (3,418 hours) and raised $6,931.94 during the PTO’s 17th annual Read-A-Thon. Students at the Memorial Middle School read for 54,546 minutes (909 hours) and fundraised $1,500.42.
Early voters began casting their votes in the presidential primary at the early voting center set up at Town Hall.
A total of 3,423 registered voters cast ballots in the primary election, a 37 percent turnout. More than 750 votes were cast in early voting. Former vice president Joe Biden received 946 votes; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received 628 votes; and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren received 559 votes.
On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. On March 13, the United States officially declared COVID-19 a national emergency. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker imposed limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and ordered that nonessential businesses be closed for at least two weeks. Restaurants were ordered to shut down all but take-out service in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.
Town Manager Lemnios assured the town that federal, state, and local agencies were working together to coordinate an appropriate response so as to provide information to and protection for the public. In an effort to protect town employees and residents, a public access restriction was put in place at all town buildings. Town staff would continue to work in the buildings.
Nantasket Pharmacy owner and pharmacist Rocky Tenaglia reported that shelves that once held surgical masks and hand sanitizers were empty as customers stocked up on these items.
Acting School Superintendent Judith Kuehn announced that Hull Public Schools would close for two weeks to ensure the health and safety of students and staff. On March 15, Governor Baker ordered K-12 schools closed until April 6. That order would ultimately be extended through the school year. The Hull Public Schools and Wellspring continued to provide lunches to students participating in the free or reduced-cost lunch program.
The scheduled annual beach grass planting was canceled. The carousel and other Hull nonprofits such as Wellspring, Hull Pride, and the Hull Garden Club cancelled or postponed fundraisers and other events and activities. Meetings of all kinds moved to online platforms as town officials and residents adapted to public health recommendations and government regulations.
After a 15-hour town-wide power outage, town officials explored legal options in an effort to get National Grid to replace two aging power lines that run through Hingham and provide Hull’s electricity.
As town and state officials urged the state Department of Conservation and Recreation to close the parking lots associated with the Nantasket Beach Reservation, Governor Baker ordered the closure of all DCR parking lots to ensure public safety. The Hull Redevelopment Authority voted to close its parking lots until May 22.
The town postponed its annual town meeting until June 1. It would later be postponed again to June 13.
Shortly after the town defended its decision to not report Hull coronavirus case numbers, the state began publishing data for all the towns in the state on a weekly basis.
The star atop a former lookout tower on Allerton Hill, usually put up after Thanksgiving and removed in January, was put up again as a beacon of hope for onlookers.
Manet Community Health Center Inc., whose sites include the Hull Medical Center, was awarded a federal grant for $767,540, part of more than $36.5 million awarded to community health centers in Massachusetts to help combat the coronavirus outbreak. The funding was awarded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The Board of Selectmen voted to postpone the May town election until June. It also voted to extend the due dates for paying real and property taxes and the deadlines for submitting property tax exemption and deferral applications.
A fast-moving storm packing gale-force winds knocked out a pair of transmission lines in Hingham, leaving Hull without power for more than 12 hours, the second outage in three weeks. A 100-foot-tall pine tree had fallen across the Hull I and II transmission lines on Hobart Street in Hingham, causing the town-wide outage in Hull.
Town-wide parking restrictions were imposed and would remain in effect for the foreseeable future to discourage nonresident visitors. The Board of Selectmen voted to restrict parking on all town-owned roads to residents and their guests from April 24 through June 15. Parking restrictions would continue throughout the summer months and into the fall.
The town manager stated that due to a decline in town revenues, including state aid, town departments and school officials were being asked to redo their proposed fiscal 2021 budgets to include no more than a 1 percent increase over last year, rather than the initial 2 percent cap.
After nearly three months on paid administrative leave, Michael Devine, Hull’s superintendent of schools, was fired. The School Committee voted unanimously to terminate during a closed session. Devine’s lawyers vowed further action.
Hull High School was named a 2020 Best High School based on rankings published by U.S. News & World Report. HHS achieved a national ranking in the top 40 percent, ranking 115th (out of 437) in the state among public high schools (as compared with 143rd in 2019) and 3,053th in the national rankings.
On April 28, COVID-19 deaths in the United States passed 100,000.
Public health director Joyce Sullivan and other town officials took action to ensure that the mask mandate issued by Governor Baker in early May went into effect. The mandate required the wearing of masks in public places where it is not possible to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. As of May 6, Hull had 35 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There were 72,025 cases in the state. Cases in the United States would reach 2 million in May.
Interim School Superintendent Judith Kuehn was named the new superintendent of Hull Public Schools.
After increasing efforts to reach out to students who qualified for free or reduced-cost school lunches but who were not participating in the breakfast and lunch delivery program, the number of participants doubled to a total of 97 families, including 210 children.
By a 3-2 vote, the Board of Selectmen defeated a proposal initiated by board member Jennifer Constable to use Community Preservation Act funds for a temporary emergency housing assistance program to help residents who are struggling economically during the pandemic.
Boston attorneys representing ousted Hull school superintendent Michael Devine said they were looking at “all available options” to clear his name. An attorney representing Devine, the former Hull school superintendent who was fired over his alleged inappropriate communications with a former Hull High School student, questioned the substance and the intent of the investigation and the report.
The Baker-Polito administration announced a four-phase reopening approach for transitioning out of the state’s stay-at-home status. Phase 1 would allow certain businesses to resume operations with “severe” restrictions. Phase 2 would allow additional businesses to resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits. Phase 3 would allow more businesses to resume operations with guidance. Phase 4 would involve the development of a vaccine and/or therapy to enable resumption of a so-called new normal.
Town Manager Lemnios announced that four town working groups would address specific aspects of a phased approach to reopening town facilities and businesses. Each working group would be responsible for applying the state guidelines to town activities. The groups would address restaurant operations, parking and traffic, parks and recreation, and town finance.
Hull High School was designated the polling location for the 2020 annual town election.
Town Moderator George Boylen announced that the annual town meeting would be held outdoors on the high school playing field on June 13 to allow for proper social distancing and appropriate sanitary protocols. Residents were asked to arrive early and to wear face masks.
Hull resident and CEO of George Washington Toma TV and Appliance donated a new replacement cooktop and personally delivered it to the Anne Scully Senior Center from his Weymouth store. The stove was installed by Hull electrician and Light Board member Pat Cannon.
Prompted by concerns about an onslaught of Memorial Day beachgoers, the state announced that Nantasket Beach Reservation parking lots would remain closed over Memorial Day weekend. The beach would remain open to the public for transitory activities, based on state mandate. After the holiday, beach visitors would be able to engage in both transitory and non-transitory and non-contact activities.
The Hull Conservation Commission voted its approval of a sand supplier to proceed with a dune restoration project along Beach Avenue. The project would address a gap in the sand dune between Coburn and Adams streets that was being used as a parking lot by residents whose homes are directly across from the beach.
The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 for a moratorium on ice cream truck licenses during the pandemic.
The community turned out in force to cheer on Hull High School graduates as they rolled down Nantasket Avenue in a celebratory parade of vehicles adorned with banners, balloons, and bunting. Light poles along the route held banners for each individual graduate, arranged in alphabetical order.
The Hull Public Library, still closed to the public, instituted front porch pickup, in which Hull residents were able to place holds on library items, which would then be placed in bags for pickup on the library porch.
An outbreak of midges in Hull and neighboring towns was described as the most severe in years. Swarms of the small, two-winged flies congregated on porches, shingles, and other spots, affecting quality of life, particularly in the Straits Pond area.
Latitude 42 held a virtual invitation-only event to announce its plans for the former aquarium building at 120 Nantasket Ave., proposing what it said would be a state-of-the-art cannabis research, cultivation, and care facility.
Hull fire officials investigated a fire that severely damaged a single-family house at 49 Central Ave. Several occupants reportedly had evacuated the building and were not injured, but the fire resulted in extensive smoke and water damage.
The Planning Board approved, with conditions, Sunset Bay Marina’s request for modifications to the site plan to allow 181 boat slips and finger piers, 32 more than previously approved. The board also gave the go-ahead for additional off-site parking spaces to help alleviate traffic congestion; an increase in the allowable floating dock area; and additional pilings for approved attenuators to replace anchors currently in use.
The Hull Nantasket Chamber of Commerce announced that the town’s free summer weekend trolley service would not be provided this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also announced the cancellation of this year’s Endless Summer festival. The chamber continued its efforts to support local businesses during the pandemic.
Hull FireFly joined with the Wellspring Multi-Service Center and the Hull Council on Aging to support a program called Better Together, which provides hot restaurant meals to Hullonians facing food insecurity. A Hull FireFly storytelling session in May raised more than $3,000 for the delivery of more than 260 hot meals to Hull residents.
There was no Memorial Day parade or ceremony at the cemetery this year. A virtual ceremony was conducted.
After several weeks of remaining closed and being limited to offering only takeout/curbside service, Hull’s hard-hit restaurants began getting the go-ahead to expand their footprints to accommodate outdoor dining. Some of the approvals required approvals from the DCR as well.
Police Chief John Dunn and members of the Hull Police Department issued a statement condemning the actions of the Minneapolis police officers that resulted in the May 30 death of George Floyd. Local faith leaders stood in solidarity with the Police Department, the Hull No Place for Hate Committee, and faith communities in condemning the actions of the officers that resulted in the Floyd’s death.
School Superintendent Kuehn reported that the school reopening plan, based on state requirements and guidelines, could be in-person, remote, or a combination of the two. A working group was tasked with determining the necessary steps to reopen the Jacobs, Memorial, and high schools.
Hull’s DCR parking lots opened at 50 percent capacity. The selectmen approved the Hull Redevelopment Authority’s request to allow up to 500 cars to park on its lot during the summer season.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection approved the water supply business plan for the Weir River Water System, without conditions. The announcement would lead to the transfer of ownership of the water system serving Hull, Hingham, and part of Cohasset from Aquarion Water Co. to the town of Hingham.
Hull Artists was awarded a $22,000 matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Cultural Facilities Fund to support a feasibility study to develop the vacant police barracks, located at 213 Nantasket Ave., into the Nantasket Center for the Arts.
With chairs set up 6 feet apart and attendees wearing face masks, Hull’s annual town meeting unfolded on the new high school turf field in 3½ hours. The 174 voters in attendance passed articles for sewer system improvements, repairs to the middle school, replacement of out-of-service hydrants, Community Preservation Act projects, and a new storm-water management bylaw, among others. A Hull man faced assault charges after he allegedly pushed Town Manager Lemnios and ripped off his protective mask following the meeting.
Consultants presented the School Committee with four options for dealing with Hull Public Schools facilities based in part on declining enrollments, public concern about excess space, and other considerations. The long-anticipated Best Educational Use of School Facilities Study did not make specific recommendations but did state that enrollment and financial projections did not support continuing to operate and maintain three separate school facilities.
The Board of Selectmen raised the parking ticket fee for nonresidents who violated the residents- and guests-only parking regulation for town-owned roads from $50 to $100.
The Conservation Commission voted to deny the notice of intent application filed by Mike McDevitt, owner of Acushnet Marine at 125 Main St., and fellow trustee Stephanie Aprea to build the foundation on which to seat a former Coast Guard boathouse on his property.
Voters at the Hingham town meeting supported modifying the size of the new water system’s Citizens Advisory Board to include an additional Hull resident, for a total of two.
The Hull Times celebrated 90 years of independent reporting of Hull’s news. The newspaper began as The Hull-Nantasket Times in 1930.
Voters at Hull’s town election indicated a desire for change as three incumbents – Selectman Kevin P. Richardson, School Committee member Eric C. Hipp, and Light Board member Stephanie G. Landry – were unseated. Donna M. Pursel was voted in as a new selectwoman; Ernest Minelli IV took a spot on the School Committee; and Jacob M. Vaillancourt was elected to fill one of the two available Municipal Light Board seats.
The Hull School Committee joined other communities in the state in supporting a statewide anti-racism resolution calling in part for schools to create a “welcoming community for ALL students” and for each district to provide annual professional development on diversity, equity, and inclusion and to commit to recruiting and retaining a diverse teaching staff.
Lion’s mane jellyfish began to make an appearance in the waters and on the sands of Nantasket Beach. The state Department of Conservation and Recreation issued an advisory to Massachusetts residents.