What's up in Town Administration
In my early years with the Town, summer was somewhat slower with respect to municipal activity – Town Meeting was over, budgets were adopted, departments were focused on summer events and activities. Those days are definitively in the past.
As August winds down, we are continuing to follow up on 2023 Annual Town Meeting actions, beginning to prepare for the next fiscal year’s (FY 2025) budget development, including review of FY 25 capital project requests, and preparing for the 2024 Annual Town Meeting. A fair amount of time has been spent in July and August working on the warrant for the November 7, 2023 Special Town Meeting – the primary purpose of which is the regulation of short-term rentals. We are spending a great deal of time on town employee housing, compensation, recruitment and retention and morale issues. In discussions with municipal officials in other towns, we are finding many towns are focused on similar employee issues.
We are working to develop the Town’s Sustainability programs, the Board’s Strategic Plan, long-term solid waste disposal planning, planning and execution of large municipal projects, including a new Our Island Home facility, a new DPW facility, a water main extension and transportation improvement project in the Surfside area, and alternative access for Baxter Road to name a few. We are faced with new environmental issues, most notably PFAS-related but also challenges involving climate change and sea level rise and how those growing concerns impact Town infrastructure.
November 7, 2023 Special Town Meeting
At the Select Board’s August 16th meeting, the warrant for the Special Town Meeting was adopted, subject to the Board’s additional review of some wording revisions that were to be finalized by Town Counsel. The Select Board met again on August 23rd to discuss the wording revisions and voted to adopt the warrant as revised.
Select Board Annual Governance Meeting
On August 2nd the Board completed its annual governance meeting in a workshop setting, in person. For the last several years, following the annual election, the Board has held a facilitated session to discuss topics specific to how it communicates with each other, the community or Town staff. It often focuses on its Strategic Plan or other very current issues, including its priorities for the next year.
Brant Point Association Annual Meeting
The BPA's annual meeting was held at the Nantucket Hotel on August 5th. I provided the group with an update on Town activities; Sustainability Program Manager Vincent Murphy spoke on the Town’s Coastal Resilience Plan and Sewer Director David Gray spoke on stormwater projects.
Police Chief Search
The search for our next Police Chief is progressing according to the original timeline. Written essays and oral interviews have already been conducted and evaluated. Through that process, the Town Search Committee has narrowed the field of roughly 40 candidates down to 5 finalists. Those finalists will attend an Assessment Center in September. Click here for more details.
A comprehensive staffing study from 2018 indicates significant progress with regard to staffing for Town operations across-the-board. While a recent comment in a report about a cancer action plan for the Fire Department indicated that Fire Department staffing is “dangerously low”, that assertion is not supported with the data analysis that was included in the report referenced above. Currently, staffing levels meet the recommendations of the 2018 report, with each of the four firefighter shifts budgeted for one (1) Captain, one (1) Lieutenant, and six (6) firefighters. This equals a total of eight (8) firefighters per shift. The department is currently seeking to replace the recently vacated Deputy Chief position and hire a new, second Deputy Chief. The Deputy Chiefs will hold the following responsibilities: Deputy Chief of Training and Administration, and Deputy Chief of Operations. The new roles of the Deputy Chiefs are also in line with the recommendations outlined in the 2018 staffing report.
On September 28, 2023, two of the Fire Department’s newest recruits, Joshua Sibley-Liddle and Raymond DeCosta will join Class #316 at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy’s fifty-day Career Recruit Firefighter Training Program at the Stowe Campus of the MA Department of Fire Services.
The Town is working on several recruitment and retention strategies, including compensation, housing, training opportunities, communications and employee recognition.
School Facilities Director Diane O’Neil
Diane O’Neil retired this month with 18 years of service to the Town. She worked in Airport Administration before joining Town Administration as Coordinator for projects and procurement. Diane was instrumental in helping to facilitate a variety of transportation and building projects. Diane’s tenure at the School Department included managing many aspects of constructing the Intermediate School, and numerous facility improvements to the Elementary, Middle and High Schools. Diane’s friendly, helpful and positive outlook have always stood out – she will be missed. We wish her all the best in her new adventures! Thank you, Diane!
Deputy Fire Chief Sean Mitchell
Sean took a new job in central Massachusetts this month. We thank him for 16 years of service to the Town and wish him and his family all the best. Thank you!
THANK YOU to all of our Lifeguards, Dock and Marine Department staff, Community Service Officers, Visitor Services information staff, Public Works seasonal workers and intern, Natural Resources and Health Department interns and employees – all of you have contributed to keeping our town running during our busiest season; or have helped with important projects. Interactions with the public can sometimes be quite challenging (and, also rewarding!) and we appreciate all of you!
- The Town of Nantucket offices & Landfill will be closed on Monday, September 4 in observance of Labor Day.
- As we approach the start of the School year, please be mindful of students walking, biking, scootering, to and from school and to after school activities.
- The sewer force main project will be starting up again on Surfside Road in the Tashama – 4 corners corridor the week of September 11th. While the work will be taking place at night, there will be detours and the need for patience and caution as this project continues. Read the Sewer Department section of this newsletter for additional information.
Town Powers Up First Municipal Solar Project at the Surfside Wastewater Treatment Plant
The Town of Nantucket’s first solar photovoltaic (PV) system is now energized and producing clean power at the Surfside Wastewater Treatment Plant, the island’s second largest consumer of electricity (the compost digester at the Landfill is the largest consumer of electricity on island). Residents and visitors were invited to tour the Facility and learn about the new system on August 10th, following a celebratory “switching-on” event with local and state officials.
The rooftop solar array, which consists of 232 solar panels, will generate enough clean power to offset 6-8% of the facility’s onsite load and save the Town more than $35,000 annually. Additionally, the project will offset 106 metric tons of local greenhouse gas emissions each year.