What's up in Town Administration
November 7, 2023 Special Town Meeting
Some highlights from the STM:
- As of 5:35 PM, 913 voters had checked in
- The High School Gym was put into use for voter overflow
- There were three Technical Amendments, which were approved at the beginning of the meeting
- Of the 20 articles on the warrant, 8 were called for discussion; the rest were approved at the beginning of the meeting – see here for the follow-up activities reviewed with the Select Board at its November 15th meeting
- Police Chief William Pittman was recognized with a standing ovation for his 19 years of service to the Town (see later in the e-news for more on his retirement)
- Incredibly, the STM concluded before 9:00 pm. Thank you to our Moderator Sarah F. Alger!
May 7, 2024 Annual Town Meeting
In October, the Select Board began a weekly discussion about potential Town-sponsored warrant articles for the May 7, 2024 Annual Town Meeting. A list of the potential articles, which is updated regularly, may be found in the Board’s agenda packets. Twenty-nine citizen petitions were submitted. Those are under review with Town Counsel. Once that review is complete, Town Counsel will review findings with the Board in December (date TBD). The Finance Committee has a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, December 14 starting at 4pm, on the citizen articles, with Town Counsel. During December, Town Administration will begin assembling the Town Meeting and Election warrant, with Select Board adoption currently scheduled for January 17, 2024.
Fiscal Year 2025 General Fund Budget
We are working to finalize our budget recommendations for presentation to the Board at its December 13, 2023 meeting. We have received many expense increase requests from Town and School departments, most of which are intended to address things like staffing resources, Strategic Plan initiatives, and increased programming in response to growing issues, such as facility maintenance, Town housing, sustainability and resiliency, and employee retention and compensation. Despite a significant increase in short-term rental revenue, which exceeded projections for FY 2023, there are many non-discretionary costs which must be funded. We are working to prioritize our recommendations to fit within projections, and to link them with specific goals or needs.
Town Council Study Committee
This committee, appointed by the Select Board in October, is scheduled to have its first meeting on Thursday, November 30th at 4pm. The meeting will be hybrid, with a Zoom webinar link and in-person at the meeting trailer at 131 Pleasant Street. Visit the committee webpage for more information and most recent agenda.
Massachusetts Municipal Manager’s Annual Fall Conference
Assistant Town Manager Rick Sears and I attended this conference in Worcester, November 16-17. The topic was Respect and Civility and ways in which municipal managers can address, cope with and rise above the increasing lack of respect and civility – both internally and externally. It’s interesting that this would actually be a topic of discussion; however, it seems that with personal attacks, misinformation and lack of fact-checking on social media, it is becoming an area that managers have had to deal with much more in the last several years. Similar to our Communications Office, many towns are establishing communications divisions and dedicating personnel resources to public outreach. It was a very interesting and worthwhile couple of days.
- For the Record: We've developed a webpage dedicated to debunking misinformation and presenting accurate facts. You can subscribe to receive regular updates here.
We have many projects at various stages of development right now. Some of the most active include:
Our Island Home
At the 2022 Annual Town Meeting/Election, funding ($8,500,000) was approved for design and associated pre-construction costs for a new Our Island Home (OIH) facility at the Sherburne Commons site. We have established a work group to assist with planning and input. The work group is comprised of Administration staff as well as representatives of stakeholder groups including: Friends of Our Island Home, Sherburne Commons, Select Board, Finance Committee, Nantucket Cottage Hospital, and Our Island Home staff. Both the required “Owner’s Project Manager” (Vertex) and the design architect have been engaged (SMRT). In December, we will be meeting with Sherburne Commons residents, Board of Directors and will start engaging with abutters to the project.
Baxter Road Alternative Access
Early in 2021, Arcadis was engaged to provide a report on long-term options for Baxter Road. That report was reviewed with the Select Board on October 6, 2021 and finalized later that month. In early 2022, Arcadis was then engaged to help develop alternative access plans for Baxter Road. The most recent update on this project is the 60% Alternative Access design, which can be found here. Meanwhile, the Conservation Commission has voted to enforce an order to remove the geotube project currently in place. While plans are being worked on for removal, the Select Board and Sconset Beach Preservation Fund (SBPF) are nonetheless working on filing a Notice of Intent (NOI) based on the 2022 NOI with the Conservation Commission for an expanded erosion control project at a portion of the bluff along Baxter Road, which is intended to prolong the life of the bluff/road while the alternative access plans are continuing to be developed. This is expected to take several years and involves securing necessary easements and funding decisions, which have yet to be determined.
Watch this video where Sustainability Projects Manager Vince Murphy explains the importance of an alternative access to Baxter Road:
Intersection improvement at Sankaty Ave/Coffin Street, Sconset
This project will hopefully be completed, weather permitting, this fall.
Employee Appreciation Event
Our annual Employee Appreciation event was held at the Nantucket Hotel this year. We had a record number of attendees and issued years of service pins to these employees.
Special thanks to these employees for their longevity and service to the Town and County. And, thanks to ALL of our employees. The work of many employees happens “behind the scenes” and isn’t routinely publicized. We appreciate all of our employees’ hard work and dedication.
The holiday season is in full swing on Nantucket, but we hope residents can take a few moments this week to thank Nantucket Police Chief Bill Pittman for nearly two decades of stellar service to our community. The Town is hosting a farewell event on Thursday, November 30, Chief Pittman’s last day on the job before a well-deserved retirement. The public is invited to attend the event from 9 am-10 am at the Public Safety Facility Community Room, 4 Fairgrounds Road.
The path that led Chief Pittman to Nantucket in 2004 was serendipitous to say the least. He was serving as Assistant Chief of Police in Springfield, Illinois, when he came across our recruitment advertisement that had been posted on the FBI National Academy website. “I thought that (Nantucket) looked like a nice place to visit,” he recently recounted, deciding to pursue the position on an island located off the coast of Massachusetts where he had never been before. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Chief Pittman led the Nantucket Police Department with a steady hand during an era of great change on this island when we experienced a significant population increase, a deadly opioid epidemic and an unfortunate uptick in domestic abuse, substance misuse and behavioral health issues. And for those who think that policing on Nantucket is simply responding to loud beach parties on the Fourth of July, we are not immune to serious criminal activity, either. During his 19-year tenure, Chief Pittman and the Nantucket Police Department solved many serious crimes, resulting in the apprehension of perpetrators who jeopardized public safety on the island.
Chief Pittman also guided the department through compliance with the state’s Police Reform Act of 2020 to increase transparency and accountability in law enforcement for the benefit of all members of our community.
Through it all, Chief Pittman made Nantucket his permanent home with his wife Nancy and two children and became an invaluable member of our community. The Town of Nantucket will be forever grateful for his dedication and commitment to service and public safety for residents and visitors alike. Please join me in wishing Chief Pittman a long, healthy, and happy retirement!
In early January, the Town will officially welcome Chief Jody Kasper to the Nantucket Police Department to succeed Chief Pittman. Details regarding a public welcome reception will be announced in the coming weeks.
The 34th Firefighter of the Year Awards ceremony was held on November 21, 2023, at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA. This annual event acknowledges firefighters who have displayed extraordinary bravery in saving lives, not limited to fire-related situations. The Nantucket Fire Department was honored for their courageous actions on July 9, 2022, when the historic Veranda House caught fire. Captain Nate Barber, who that morning was off-duty and having coffee nearby, saw the smoke and immediately jumped into action. He entered the burning structure through a window on the second floor and despite having no protective gear, helped to lead several civilians to safety. Approximately thirty Nantucket firefighters battled the blaze for nearly three hours before mutual aid fire departments arrived to assist. While some firefighters were treated for exhaustion, their swift actions prevented any civilian injuries or loss of life. The Nantucket firefighters' determination was instrumental in averting a tragedy.
The following members of the Nantucket Fire Department received the Citation for Meritorious Conduct: Deputy Chief Sean Mitchell, Deputy Chief Robert Bates (Ret.), Captain Nate Barber, Captain Francis Hanlon, Captain Charles Kymer, Captain Kevin Ramos, Captain Joseph Townsend, Captain Jeffrey Allen (Ret.), Call Captain Earl Eldridge, Firefighter Dave Angelastro, Firefighter Beau Barber, Firefighter Ivo Baychev, Firefighter Mario Cameron, Firefighter Germano Chatti, Firefighter Ethan Fey, Firefighter Michael Finnegan, Firefighter Christopher Gould, Firefighter Christopher Holland, Firefighter Scott Holmes, Firefighter Alana Macey, Firefighter Mack McGrath, Firefighter David Pekarcik, Firefighter Shane Perry, Firefighter Corey Ray, Firefighter Alex Rezendes, Call Firefighter Mac Davis, Firefighter Shawn Monaco (Ret.).
Additionally, Captain Nate Barber was awarded the Medal of Valor by Governor Maura Healey for his heroic actions that morning.
The Nantucket Fire Department is proud to protect and serve this island and will always strive to deliver the best level of protection to its residents and visitors!
Health & Human Services Department
Schedule your COVID/Flu shots
The next clinic will be held on Saturday, December 9, 2023 from 9am - 2pm at the Nantucket Elementary School Cafeteria on Backus Lane. Schedule your shot here.
This is the LAST Town-sponsored vaccine clinic of the winter. Nobody will be turned away due to insufficient insurance. This is a great opportunity for everyone to get their seasonal vaccines in before traveling for their winter holidays.
Aside from getting flu and covid vaccines, other things you can do to stay healthy include:
- Frequently washing hands with warm water and soap after using the restroom; before cooking and eating food; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; after traveling; after working outside; or anytime your hands look dirty.
- The cold air can be quite drying, so be sure to stay hydrated.
- Take it easy on alcoholic beverages, which can contribute to seasonal depression. Fresh air and sunshine, especially in the company of friends or loved ones can do so much to chase the winter blues away. So, call a friend, bundle up and head outside together to explore the beautiful wonders of Nantucket in the winter!
Thursday the Town of Nantucket’s Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee (CRAC) and Natural Resources Department posts briefings to raise awareness about the climate risks the island faces, and the actions we can take – both as individuals, and together as a community – to make our island more resilient. Read the Town's Coastal Resilience Plan here. If you have questions, send an email toCoastal Resilience Coordinator Leah Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow NRD in social media! Instagram @NRDACK Facebook: Town of Nantucket Natural Resources Department
Planning & Economic Development Commission
The Nantucket Regional Transit Authority has proposed the purchase of two electric buses
The Transit Program portion of the FFY 2024 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is proposed to be amended by the NP&EDC to add the purchase of two electric buses. The purchase of a new fare collection system would also be removed from the FFY 2024 portion of the TIP. Investing in transportation improvements that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and investing in a low-emission transit fleet is a priority for Nantucket. To voice your support or concerns for this TIP Amendment, please click here.
The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has an open seat
If you have an interest in improving walking and biking on Nantucket, please consider sending a letter of interest for the open seat on Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). BPAC advises the NP&EDC on bicycle and pedestrian projects to be included in the Long-Range Transportation Plan, participates/organizes educational opportunities to encourage biking and walking, seeks to maintain Nantucket’s designation as a “bicycle-friendly community,” and makes other recommendations to encourage biking and walking as modes of transportation. Letters of interest need to be submitted by Monday, January 1, 2024, 4 PM to Transportation Program Manager Mike Burns at email@example.com, or addressed to the Planning and Land Use Services Office at 2 Fairgrounds Road, Nantucket, MA 02554. For more information, please click here.
Tree Installations Downtown
Thank you to our dedicated DPW team for installing dozens of trees around the downtown area, including the Main Street Fountain temporary display and the large tree at the top of Main Street.