Two topics -- the Annual Town Meeting and COVID-19 -- continue to dominate much of our work.  As explained by Town Moderator Alan Wilson, Select Board Chairman Eli Boling, and Town Clerk Christina St. Pierre in a separate article, our Annual Town Meeting will take place June 22 (rain date June 24) outdoors on the high school football field.

This weekend Manchester Harbormaster Bion Pike sent out an interim communication, a mini “Waterline” if you will, that tips off a brewing issue for mooring holders accessing their boats at Tuck’s Point.  This season’s new “haul-out solution” to address the condemned ramp that accesses the dinghy dock off the rotunda is seen by many to be not enough. 

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The Selectmen, in consultation with the Board of Health, have approved the partial opening of town beaches starting Monday, May 25 The opening is restricted to residents and only for transient use -walking and running.  Residents will be required to show a beach tag to enter Singing Beach. Beaches will remain closed on weekends and no facilities or parking will be provided during this initial stage.  

Town Hall remains closed to the public. Staff is available to help you with your business needs. Please email the appropriate department directly for assistance. Phone lines are currently down and being worked on as quickly as possible.  

Starting just before 9 a.m. last Saturday, residents began lining up in their cars for the town’s first ever “drive thru” selling at Manchester Essex Regional Middle High School on Lincoln Street to secure their seasonal municipal tags, licenses and placards for resident beach access, dogs and boating.

With postponements and changes in the 375th Anniversary Celebration scheduled events, last week the Manchester 375th Committee announced two events that would both mark the town’s milestone during public safety distancing but also mark the incredible efforts of our community’s safety officials and first responders. 

Plans are being formulated that will allow residents to start accessing parks and beaches in town while still being mindful of the protocols necessary to avoid spreading the COVID 19 virus.  After a lengthy discussion at their meeting last Monday evening, during which a broad spectrum of public opinions were expressed, the Selectmen voted to move forward with a four phased approach.

For weeks now, one of the shining smaller stories of frontline health and safety workers doing their jobs during this time of mandated sheltering at home and social distancing, is the local groups and teams that have stepped up to cook, prepare and deliver meals to show the community’s appreciation. 

The COVID 19 crisis remains front and center as we continue to deal with the pandemic.  The good news for Manchester is that the number of confirmed cases remains low and, significantly, we have not had a new confirmed case in nearly 3 weeks.  (We had an uptick in the number of confirmed cases, but the cases dated back to early April due to a lag in reporting from one of the testing vendors.)  Statewide, the surge appears to have peaked and hospitalization numbers and deaths are starting to decline.

This week’s news that schools will not be re-opening this spring, while not a total surprise, was none-the-less dishearteningMore encouraging are the many stories of people helping their neighbors. 

Locally, we have done well in keeping the novel coronavirus at bay.  As I write this, there have been no new confirmed cases reported in Manchester for over a week.  All nine of the previous cases are no longer active.  Obviously, one case is one too many, but residents deserve praise for adhering to the physical distancing advisories and recommended hygiene protocols as they appear to be working. 

On Tuesday, April 14th, the town of Manchester turned to a familiar central touchstone—the Friendship Tree at the Town Common—to trigger the first of a nightly ritual of remembrance during these days of COVID-19 coronavirus. 

The Town of Manchester’s Planning Board, members of the Board of Appeals, Zoning Enforcement Officer, Town Planner and others have been working with the Town’s legal consultant since June of 2019 to recodify and update the Town’s Zoning Bylaws.  The monthly meetings are open to the public and agendas and minutes are posted online.  But what is this initiative and why is it important?

We continue to devote considerable time and resources dealing with the pandemic as it impacts our community.  As expected, the number of confirmed COVID cases is increasing.  While daily updates at the county level are available from the state’s Department of Public Health, Manchester specific updates are being provided by our Board of Health every Wednesday morning, similar to many of our neighboring communities.