Edgartown moves town meeting, mulls location

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Edgartown selectmen are looking for a different location for town meeting, saying the Old Whaling Church won't allow for social distancing. —Gabrielle Mannino

Edgartown selectmen unanimously approved moving the date of annual town meeting to June 16 and the town election to June 18, but where the meeting will be held remains uncertain.

During a Zoom meeting Monday afternoon, town administrator James Hagerty told selectmen the Old Whaling Church where town meetings are usually held would “not be feasible,” due to social distancing concerns.

Possible locations for the meeting that Hagerty offered were the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, the high school athletic field, the Edgartown School gymnasium, or under a tent in the field outside the Edgartown School. Edgartown’s town meeting can be held in another town, according to Hagerty.

But each location has obstacles such as price, accessibility, and proper ventilation

Edgartown selectman Arthur Smadbeck said it is important that there be enough parking wherever town meeting is held, adding outside the school would work well. Selectmen Michael Donaroma and Margaret Serpa agreed that a meeting under a tent outside the school would meet the town’s needs.

Hagerty said a town meeting outside with staging, tents, a speaker system, and porta potties could cost $10,000.

“But again we’re talking a $50 million budget so whatever we can do to set optimal conditions to allow people to come in June we have to do it,” Hagerty said. 

Selectmen did not vote on a location, but asked Hagerty to continue developing a plan for an annual town meeting under a tent.