Voters participating in Saturday’s town meeting on Hull High School’s athletic field sat in chairs spaced 6 feet apart and wore face masks, as required for the second year in a row.
Before the journey through the warrant began, state Rep. Joan Meschino, who lives in town, commented on the strong turnout. “It’s been a tough year, but this is the Hull community, here through thick and thin. Thank you for your civic engagement,” she said.
Jennifer Constable, chairwoman of the Select Board, whose new name was approved during the meeting, acknowledged the efforts of town officials, school staff members, and residents the continuing successes experienced “despite this tumultuous year. In true Hull fashion, the town has prevailed. [The board] supports your continued work as we emerge into brighter days.”
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Boston) provided an update on available funding that could benefit the town, including the small restaurants program, which the Small Business Administration is helping to run. “My office would be happy to help any [Hull] restaurant owner [seeking assistance],” Lynch said.
He also reported that the town is on the high-priority list for possible funding for a new Pemberton pump-out station.
Moving on to the warrant articles, Council on Aging Chairman Jim Richman put a hold on the COA budget, asking for $60,000 to be taken from free cash to help fund the Better Together meals program.
“This provides hot restaurant meals for the elderly, the disabled, and veterans on Thursday nights,” he explained. “At the same time, Better Together supports local restaurants” struggling during the current economic downturn.
Better Together has been made possible by donations from the community, grant money, the participation of local eateries, and Meals on Wheels volunteers and senior center staff who make the deliveries every Thursday, wearing face masks and gloves and respecting social distancing guidelines.
The cost to run the program is about $65,000 a year. “We would fundraise the remaining amount,” Richman said.
However, Town Manager Philip Lemnios reported there is not enough money in the free cash fund to put toward the program; if that amount were to be allocated from that source, the $43.6 million fiscal 2022 budget (including the schools), which voters also approved, would no longer be balanced.
Lemnios said that while the cause is worthy, it would be better to wait for potential additional CARES Act funding or to seek other grant opportunities.
Richman’s motion was not seconded, so it was not considered or voted on.
Upon agreement by Patrick Finn and the Advisory Committee, a “no action” recommendation was put forth for the article asking voters to appropriate $899,000 for Fort Revere Water Tower repairs and restoration, pending further exploration and discussion of the recent engineer’s study related to costs, goals, and potential outcomes. Seeking other funding sources beyond the town budget, including Community Preservation Act money, is recommended. Finn initially filed a citizen’s petition for this article to appear on the warrant.
Voters also approved:
* authorizing the Select Board to acquire easements through various means, including eminent domain, along Atlantic Avenue that are required to access the funding earmarked for the town for the redesign and reconstruction of 1.3 miles of Atlantic Avenue;
* introducing new “green” building requirements for all newly constructed commercial buildings and residential buildings with three or more units;
*authorizing the bonding of $450,000 for a front-end loader and street sweeper for the Department of Public Works;
* forming a study committee to further investigate the depth and impact of a proposed building code change that would regulate the design and construction of buildings for the effective use of energy.
“The parameters for what additions or renovations to a home would invoke this code are not clear, thus cost impacts cannot be assessed,” states the Advisory Board in its recommendation for this article in the warrant. “Current changes being contemplated at the state level may make adoption of this article premature at this time.”
The meeting began at 1 p.m. and was adjourned four hours later.