WILMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen heard a COVID-19 update at their meeting on Monday night before they went onto communications and requests under board to consider.
Board of Health Director Shelly Newhouse said the town has 10 positive cases right now, not including a few in the town’s nursing homes. She also shared that as of Monday, restaurants in town are permitted to seat guests at the bar. The last thing she mentioned was the drive-up flu clinic which was held last week and will be open again this Saturday from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. by appointment.
Chief Cavanaugh added that he’s been coordinating the town’s reimbursement under the CARES Act and now also through FEMA, which has been extended indefinitely. Both Cavanaugh and Newhouse also wanted to remind everyone to keep social distancing, wearing masks, and washing their hands.
The first communication the Town Manager read was about a recovery and remembrance event for substance abuse on Oct. 15 at 5:30 p.m. sponsored by Substance Abuse Coordinator Samantha Reif. While the board was concerned about limiting the public attendance to 50 people, Reif called in during public comments to say the public would attend online only.
The next item was a reminder about the EPA’s proposed plan for the Olin Superfund Site comment period extended until Oct. 26. Town Manager Jeff Hull also shared information from a phone call with Textron where they specified intent to take down their unused buildings and hire upwards of 300 people in the next five years.
Another reminder came from Town Clerk Christine Touma-Conway that in-person voting on Nov. 3 will be at the Shriner’s Auditorium, but there’s also early voting available at the town hall starting Oct. 14.
An update came from the Planning and Conservation Department asking residents to participate in fall clean-up in their neighborhoods. The DPW asked residents to place their bulky items at the curb for Casella or notify them if they couldn’t. RMLD also sent in a reminder to the Town Manager with regard to their Public Power Week from Oct. 4-10 with some virtual events.
The board next considered a request from Michael Barry to use Rotary Park for rehearsal and performance space for two Shakespeare productions with The Misfit Artist Company. While the board voted in favor of the proposal, they asked Hull to remind Barry that everyone who can should wear a mask, that he might have to work around anyone using the park, and that they shouldn’t leave any trash behind.
The five board members also voted in favor of automatically extending every license for on premises consumption of food and drink at restaurants per COVID-19 order 50 being extended to 60 days after the state of emergency ends. Their final anticipated vote was for the appointment of 25 additional election workers.
Later, the board voted in favor of a prayer event to be held outside on the town common on Saturday, Oct. 10 and took no action on the Pizza Days request since the petitioner didn’t make it to the meeting.
In announcements, the board celebrated Selectmen Gregory Bendel’s wife’s pregnancy, the retirement of librarian Linda Pavluk, and the birthday of Ethel Butters. They also referenced the losses of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Ralph Gants.
The final announcement came from Jonathan Eaton recommending that all safety precautions like social distancing, face masks, and hand sanitizer be used for residents who feel comfortable trick-or-treating on Halloween.
The first public commenter introduced a topic the board addressed after announcements. Ethan Sawyer said that in his opinion, Mike McCoy should continue to serve on the MBTA advisory board even though the Board of Selectmen voted Jomarie O’Mahony as their new designee.
“There’s finally going to be some activity at the North Wilmington train station. He’d be a good asset to that whole process.”
At this point, Kevin Caira doubted McCoy’s attendance to that board’s meetings, and O’Mahony said she would ask if it’s possible for the selectmen to have two designees.
Caira went on to formally request the board notify the MBTA advisory board that O’Mahony is their new designee while also sending a letter to McCoy thanking him for his time representing the Board of Selectmen.
Eaton initially established that he thought McCoy could still serve on the advisory board; he just wouldn’t represent the selectmen. Caira said that technically the board should make a new appointee and that it would be up to them if they want to reappoint McCoy.
Selectman Bendel supported Caira’s motion, saying he expects that not only would he no longer serve on any committees should he leave the board, but also that his appointees would expire. Caira went on to suggest putting term limits on the board’s appointees to give future selectmen the chance to make appointments.
The solution the chairman offered was to make a subcommittee to look at the process of forming and structuring committees.
It was implied that discussion about possibly appointing McCoy as a resident to the committees he had wanted to serve on and how to deal with appointments would continue at the next meeting. They unanimously voted to at least thank McCoy for his time representing the Board of Selectmen on the MBTA advisory board, the inhabitant by-law committee, and the rink committee.
Caira asked the chairman under important dates why the high school media room would be the location of their next three meetings. Eaton explained the volunteers who would normally join their town hall meetings couldn’t come to set up.
Another benefit he said is that the WHS media room could allow a public commenter to share their comment in person.
Caira countered that the town hall room they were currently in was much bigger. He didn’t believe Eaton’s claim that Bendel had moved a meeting to the Wildwood School without approval from the rest of the board when he was chair.
After the motion to keep their next meeting on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at the town hall failed, Monday’s meeting ended with the Salute to Service recognizing WHS graduate James Davey.