Menotomy Minutemen at Town Hall, 2023.Menotomy Minutemen enter Town Hall Auditorium on April 24. /Bob Sprague photo

UPDATED April 27: The 2023 annual Town Meeting, gathering at Town Hall for the first time since 2019 on Monday, April 24, addressed 13 of 72 articles. Following the highlights are details:

  • Article 6 (self-serve gas station): Adopted, 122-107, after approval of an amendment.
  • Article 9 (stenographic record of Town Meeting): Postponed to May 1 for an amendment to be submitted properly, on a vote of 174-52.
  • Article 10 (stretch energy code): Adopted, 204-11.

It was “a homecoming back to Town Hall,” said Town Moderator Greg Christiana as he thanked Arlington’s officials for making the proceedings beginning 8 p.m. Monday, April 23, possible – the first time since 2019 that Town Meeting was held in person and at its historical location.

Not that the arrangements inside were completely traditional – the estimated 225 people present of the total 252 Town Meeting members were mostly on the main floor, but with some on the balcony and others in the “satellite room” visible through real-time feed on screen.

'All poetry is prayer'

In its first three hours, 2023’s Town Meeting made three significant votes, heard from the town’s poet laureate, the Select Board chair and dozens of members, and sang the National Anthem accompanied by the traditional fife-and-drum of the Menotomy Minutemen. 

"All poetry is prayer,” said Town Poet Laureate Jean Flanagan, quoting Samuel Beckett at the beginning of her invocation. She exhorted her listeners to “transform your differences into solutions for the common good of the community." She acknowledged losses, including Town Meeting members and public officials who had died in thefour intervening years -- and who had been named previously by Christiana as he asked for a moment of silence in their memory. 

“We are healing at last from the pandemic,” Flanagan said. “We are more resilient than we think.”

Christiana swore in new members and told all present to “vote in the interest of the town.”

Town Manager Sandy Pooler introduced Arlington’s department heads and other top town officials.

State of Town

Select Board Chair Eric Helmuth gave theState of the Town address, beginning by mentioning municipal employees who have retired in the past year and those expected to do so in coming weeks and months. 

He listed numerous local-government accomplishments but did not shy away from talking about concerns. For example, he said, the equity audit released two months ago provided “an honest look at the gap” between the ideal and the reality of affordable housing and other important social issues.

“In Arlington, everyone belongs,” Helmuth said. He also spoke briefly about ongoing environmental efforts to electrify new construction -- and he said that while the budgets are balancing for now, there could be “rough seas ahead” by 2026 -- and opinions may sharply diverge on how best to address them. “We can disagree without being disagreeable,” he said. 

He concluded with the traditional verbiage for such speeches:  “The state of our town, our beloved community, is strong.”

That was followed by the unanimous voice-vote appointments of John Worden (8) as measurer of wood and bark, and of Adam Auster (20) as assistant moderator; both were the sole nominees in each post.

Self-service stations

Article 6, calling for permitting a self-service option for gasoline, drew many speakers. Some, like Precinct 8’s John D. Leone and John Maher (14), supported the original motion, while others, such as Aram Hollman (6) and Xavid Pretzer (17), favored an amended version offered by Chris Loreti (7) constricting the self-service option to be permitted only to those stations already “providing services in at least one service bay” such as maintenance and repairs. The Loreti version ultimately passed, narrowly, 122-107.

Stenographic record

Debate was equally spirited on Article 9, which was finally voted to be held over for a week – to Monday, May 1 – for further consideration. The proposal was to eliminate paper transcripts of Select Board meetings; one adherent was Pooler, saying that “paper is going away” at Town Hall. “It’s just reality.”

Many disagreed, including Loreti, Steve Revilak (1) and Andrew Fischer (6), all of whom said that they prize their collections of hard-copy transcripts.

Worden asked about the cost of the stenographic record in recent years; told by Pooler that it has varied between $4,000 and $13,000 annually, Worden called it “a spit in the ocean,” meaning a ridiculously trivial expense compared to the total within municipal government. 

Worden said that digital means of preservation vary in quality and are not foolproof because earlier versions inevitably become essentially obsolete and unreadable over time. “After a while, technology changes,” Worden said, adding that he considers paper records to be invaluable historically and legally.

The vote to postpone a week was 174 in favor, 52 in opposition, with 1 abstention. 

Environmental code

Less controversial was Article 10, the proposal to adopt a specialized code related to the climate crisis toreduce the carbon footprintof new construction. “We urge your support,” Helmuth said. Half a dozen others concurred with the plan to make it effective Jan. 1, 2024; no one spoke in opposition. This approval will make Arlington the 10th town in the region to require that large buildings be net zero for greenhouse gases, officials said. The vote was 204 in favor, 11 opposed.

For further details, see notes by Christian Klein (10) here >> 

ACMi provides live coverage on the Government channel (Comcast 22, RCN 614, Verizon 26) and streaming live at The cable-TV station also typically will rebroadcast each session multiple times.

View April 24 session on ACMi:

The annotated warrant for the annual Town Meeting is available, but it does not contain the vote language or comments on the financial articles. They are to be added soon. 

Updates to  the annotated warrant (amendments, substitute motions and presentations or statements are linked at the bottom of each article in the Additional Materials section):

Article 6 – Presentation submitted by John D. Leone, Precinct 8
Article 6 – Amendment by Chris Loreti, Precinct 7
Article 6 – Presentation by Chris Loreti
Article 9 – Substitute Motion, Adam Badik, Precinct 5
Article 10 – Presentation by Clean Energy Future Committee
Article 10 – Letter from Pat Hanlon, Precinct 5
Article 12 – Letter from Program for Global Public Health submitted by Robin Bergman, Precinct 12
Article 12 – Letter from Greg Dennis, Precinct 1
Article 12 – Letter from Shaw Industries submitted by Larry Slotnick, Precinct 7
Article 12 – Letter from Sierra Club of Massachusetts submitted by Beth Melofchik, Precinct 9
Article 12 – Letter re: Helihon Study, Jordan Weinstein, Precinct 21
Article 12 – Letter responding to Greg Dennis, Jordan Weinstein, Precinct 21
Article 12 - background on PFAS in Shaw Turf, Jordan Weinstein, Precinct 21
Article 14 – Substitute Motion, Lenard Diggins, Precinct 3
Article 29 – video by James Fleming, submitted by Vincent Baudoin, Precinct 1
Article 17 – Presentation by Larry Slotnick, Precinct 7
Article 19 – Background information, Paul Schlichtman, Precinct 9
Article 29 – Presentation by James Fleming, submitted by Vincent Baudoin, Precinct 1
Article 30 – video by James Fleming, submitted by Vincent Baudoin, Precinct 1
Article 30 – Presentation by James Fleming, submitted by Vincent Baudoin, Precinct 1
Article 37 – Arlington Public Schools FY24 Report
Article 48 – Conservation Commission Water Bodies ReportTown Meeting logo

See the Town Meeting dashboard >>

A Special Town Meeting is set for Wednesday, May 3, and residents can read the PDF version of that warrant. The STM annotated warrant is expected to be available after the hearings have been held and that report completed. 

For the first time in years, the draft warrant for the annual Town Meeting was available to the public on Feb. 24 in advance of article hearings. That document has since been updated to the final warrant. Read it here >>

Further information about 19 citizen articles >> 

Select Board, public discuss articles: Round 1Round 2Artificial turfRound 3Round 4 and Round 5

The following reports are available:

2022 Annual Town Report 

Arlington Redevelopment Board

Select Board

Capital Planning Committee

CPA Committee

CDBG Report

Remote Participation Study Committee

Robbins Library update on ATM 2019, Article 38 

Arlington Public Schools FY24

Conservation Commission Water Bodies Report

Attend precinct meetings, which concluded April 23 >> 

YourArlington's main 2023 Town Meeting link >> 

This news summary was published Tuesday, April 25, 2023, based on information from the Town of Arlington website and local resident Christian Klein. It was updated Wednesday, April 26, with details reported by Assistant Editor Judith Pfeffer, as well as April 27, to add ACMi video.