May 23, 2020
Dear Fellow Manchester Residents:
This year, the annual town meeting comes at a challenging moment as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic. In consultation with the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Health, the moderator has acted under state law to postpone the meeting and will do so again with a target date of June 22 at 6:30 p.m. We will hold the meeting on the Manchester Essex Middle High School football field. The rain date is June 24, also at 6:30 p.m.
In planning for this year’s meeting, our paramount goal is to conduct it as safely as possible and to take all essential measures to protect the health of everyone who participates. In doing so, we will work in close cooperation with the Manchester Board of Health and follow any guidance issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and other expert agencies. The location on the football field will permit seats for individual voters (or members of the same household) to be separated by ten feet, with physical separation maintained while arriving and leaving. We will publish additional details on protective measures well in advance of the meeting so that voters will know what to expect.
We are also taking steps to make the meeting as efficient as possible, while still allowing for considered deliberation and action by the voters. The principal focus will be on financial articles and others that are time-sensitive. We will publish in advance as much information as possible to limit lengthy presentations at the meeting. We will utilize Manchester’s provision for a Consent Calendar, which permits the moderator to consolidate non-controversial articles for a single motion and vote, unless a voter objects to an article’s inclusion. The Selectmen will move to pass over (do nothing on) articles which are not time-sensitive and can be deferred to a future meeting.
These are difficult times, but Manchester’s town meeting has endured and flourished for 375 years through civil and world wars, the 1918 flu pandemic, and the trauma following 9/11. With proper measures in place to protect public health, it offers an opportunity to come together as a community and conduct essential business.
Alan Wilson, Town Moderator
Eli Boling, Chair, Board of Selectmen
Christina St. Pierre, Town Clerk