Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

UPDATED April 13: The Select Board on Monday, April 11, voted to approved two newsworthy items:

  • This year's annual Town Meeting, starting April 25, will be held virtually and not in person; and
  • Town Day will return after a two-year absence, and be held Saturday, Sept. 17. The daylong series of events was last held in 2019 >> 

The vote to approve a virtual Town Meeting was 3-1 (Len Diggins, Eric Helmuth, Diane Mahon in favor; John Hurd against; Steve DeCourcey absent).

Christiana recommends

Newly elected Town Moderator Greg Christiana, who requested a remote meeting, said he arrived at his decision after consulting with the town manager, town counsel and director of Health and Human Services.

“We discussed the town’s large venues — Town Hall, football field, high school gymnasium — and the option of remote meetings. 

“I learned that it’s not possible to assemble in person, based on conversations about the increasing number of local Covid cases, and the poor ventilation at Town Hall, which is difficult to remedy. I want to provide a safe venue for all participants, and my decision is based on satisfying any legal requirements,” Christiana told the board. 

Health and Human Services Director Christine Bongiorno said, “We’re seeing increasing cases of Covid in this region.”

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said, “We inquired about the new high school’s gym and auditorium. A series of volleyball games are scheduled in the gym, and the auditorium’s audio-visual equipment won’t be ready by then.”

Christiana added, “Another advantage of a remote meeting is that participants can show their videos, and I’m learning from previous virtual Town Meetings how we can do it better.” 

In a memo to the Select Board, Christiana wrote, “I certify that . . . all components of the system . . . have been tested and I am satisfied that this system will enable our meetings to be conducted in substantially the same manner as if they had occurred in person at a physical location.”

Select Board’s response

Helmuth: “I like Town Meeting in person; however, I support this because of the information Bongiorno presented. Covid trends are going up, and even though there are now more treatments, and many cases are not serious, people still need to quarantine. Virtual Town Meeting does work, and is democratic. We’re better at virtual Town Meeting, because members who aren’t comfortable with technology are able to participate and vote.”

Diggins: “We have 20 percent more attendants in a virtual meeting. If people test positive for Covid, they’re not allowed in an in-person meeting. We have an alternative that enables them to participate fully in the process.”

However, John Hurd opposed a virtual Town Meeting: “I prefer the human interaction of a physical meeting. People can wear masks if they want to. Another Town Meeting via the virtual platform is too overwhelming for me to support.”

Town Day returns

On Saturday, Sept. 17, residents and visitors can — once again — celebrate Town Day, one of Arlington’s favorite annual traditions since 1976.

Along Mass. Ave., local businesses showcase their products and services. Come learn what Arlington has to offer, mingle with your neighbors, and take home some free swag.

Watch for details, to be reported later, about signing up for a booth.

Town Meeting report

The board also approved its report to Town Meeting, with minor changes. See the draft report here >>

Watch the whole April 11 board meeting on ACMi:

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This news brief by YourArlington freelancer Susan Gilbert was published Tuesday, April 12, 2022, and updated April 13, to include details..