The Plympton Board of Selectmen met Monday evening, March 13, to discuss and vote on several issues, including whether or not to continue meeting remotely or to resume in-person meetings as have some other town boards, including the Plympton School Committee.
The law that made remote meetings acceptable under the Open Meeting Law, was passed in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown in order that municipalities could still conduct their business while being in quarantine. That allowance expires on March 31, at which time full in-person meetings will need to resume. The state legislature has a bill before it to extend the remote meetings deadline for two years, allowing the towns the option of meeting remotely until March 31, 2025.
The question before the board was whether or not selectmen would seek to continue their remote meetings or return to in-person meetings. Selectman John Traynor spoke in favor of continuing the remote meetings because of their convenience and also spoke to the merits of in-person meetings, the best, in his estimation would be a hybrid of both, with the ease and convenience of the ZOOM meeting, and the option of people coming in for an in-person experience. Chairman Christine Joy said, “We’re not there yet,” to which Traynor replied that it was tested and it worked flawlessly.
Joy further stated that with ZOOM meetings, there has been greater public participation and that often, in person meetings were not attended by any members of the pubic.
Selectman Mark Russo said that he didn’t think the legislation to allow the continuation of remote meetings had passed the legislature and suggested the board wait to vote on the matter until the legislature voted. He did say that remote meetings were able to run more efficiently. Joy said she was in favor of returning to in-person meetings until the legislature votes, making the March 27 meeting the first in-person selectmen’s meeting. That meeting is also a continuation of the SLT hearing for its Spring Street location.
On Joy’s motion, the board voted unanimously to return to in-person meetings as of March 27.
Plympton resident Pat Burke, after the vote, because he had difficulty getting into the ZOOM meeting, said he wished the town would continue both in person and remote meetings, saying it might encourage people to participate in town government.
In other matters, Town Clerk Tricia Detterman brought to selectmen the question of allowing Vote by Mail for local elections. Other towns in the commonwealth have decided to eliminate that option, citing its cost and the unnecessary burden of another vote by mail. State and federal elections would not be affected. Detterman said that she was personally in favor of keeping the vote by mail option. “Hopefully we get more people participating in the electoral process.”
Selectman Traynor told the board that the Town of Sharon, where Deborah Sampson went to live with her husband Benjamin Gannett and where they are buried, was promoting a “forever” stamp in honor of the commonwealth’s official heroine. The Sharon Historical Society Feb. 9, 2023, voted unanimously to support the issuing of a Deborah Sampson Forever Stamp. The Town of Plympton Board of Selectmen voted to join in support of the effort. People who wish to support the new stamp may write a letter of support to Stamp Development, Attn: Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300, Washington, DC 20260-3501. The deadline for mailing your letter of support is the first week in April.
Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy told the board that Plympton would discontinue its regionalization of the Animal Control Officer services, effective immediately, with a vote of the board. She said that Carver had not been able to provide the service for a number of reasons and that both towns found it would be easier just to sever the relationship for now.
Selectmen voted to allow the bicycle race “Harbor to the Bay” permission to ride through the town on Sept. 23, from 7:30 to 10 a.m. on Spring St., Brook St., and Mayflower Rd. This will be their final bike ride.
As for the Raves that usually close the meetings, Russo told the board about serving on the Community Preservation Committee with David Chandler, who passed away last week. Russo remembered that he would come 20 minutes early to prepare for his meeting and Chandler also took to coming in 20 minutes early and the two would talk about everything from the state of the economy, national banking, politics, down to chain saw maintenance. After years of these pre-meeting visits Russo said he found that the conversations with Dave were the perfect preparation for the upcoming CPC meeting. Chandler, the board agreed, was a lovely gentleman and will be dearly missed by the town.
Traynor agreed with Russo and wanted to give a shoutout to the police who were able to put together a presence at Chandler’s funeral, with an officer at the door for the wake and two officers to accompany the funeral, all at short notice.
On another note, Traynor said he was happy to see there were 60 people at the Pay-T trash seminar held March 4 at the Town House, because there wasn’t enough space at the library to accommodate the crowd. The presentation by Highway Superintendent Rob Firlotte will be repeated Saturday, March 18, for those who didn’t attend March 4, also at the Town House. There will be refreshments and coffee at the library for those who have already seen the presentation.
Traynor also told the board the Recreation Commission is full and active and working with Liz Dennehy with some funds that have been earmarked for their use. Traynor recalled the days when Plympton didn’t have enough players to field a softball team so the town sent their players to Halifax. This spring, he told the board, there will be four Plympton softball teams!
The meeting adjourned. The next meeting will be the continued hearing for SLT on the Spring St. project. It will be in-person, in the Deborah Sampson room of the Plympton Town House, 5 Palmer Road.