Hudson leaders trim town meeting warrant, citing risks of longer meeting amid pandemic

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By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Hudson – The warrant for this month’s town meeting abruptly shrunk, June 15, as Hudson selectmen agreed to cut 14 planned articles in a unique response to COVID-19 concerns.

Billed as a move to shorten the overall length of the meeting and thereby decrease transmission risk, officials agreed delayed action on the articles in question will have minimal adverse effects on municipal operations.

“The idea was to speed up town meeting,” Executive Assistant Tom Moses said. “We want to get in and out with as little exposure as possible.”

When they meet June 22 at Hudson High School, voters will no longer hear an ask for money to buy new water meters. Officials have also passed over another article seeking funding to replace old water mains and yet another pushing to make repairs to the exterior of the Hudson High School building. Two more postponed articles would have asked for money to replace both “heavy” and “light” town owned vehicles that are now out of date.

Trimming what was a 40 article warrant down to just 26 issues, this does have the potential to substantially slash the overall runtime of the often marathon spring town meeting.

“These are all articles that we can postpone or pass over,” Moses emphasized.

Hudson, like many of its neighboring communities, has wrestled with its town meeting plans in recent weeks and months.

As the ongoing pandemic had made any sort of mass gathering unsafe, officials first pushed their mid-May meeting to June 22.

Now, though, as that new date approaches, Hudson leaders are pushing forward, forgoing an option to delay the meeting again in hopes of passing a new budget before the start of the next fiscal year, July 1.

Citing an ability for social distancing and these new measures of minimizing the overall length of the meeting, officials think they can gather safely and effectively.

Reinforcing that, Moses noted June 15 that he and a large group of colleagues recently gathered at the high school itself for what was effectively a walkthrough of the town meeting.

“We wanted to take a look to figure out how we can do this appropriately,” Board of Selectman Chair Joe Durant said.

Outside of town meeting shakeups, selectmen also unanimously approved an abbreviated 2020 running of the now annual town farmers’ market which will take place on the town hall front lawn starting later this summer.

Likewise, they heard and eventually greenlighted a pair of outdoor dining applications from Finnegan’s Pub and the Horseshoe Pub.

Both restaurants are seeking to jumpstart business in compliance with new phase two coronavirus reopening guidelines from Gov. Charlie Baker.

“[We want to do] anything we can do to help,” Selectman Jim Quinn said during a conversation about the Finnegan’s application.

To see a full list of which town meeting articles were cut from Hudson’s original town meeting warrant, click the link below. https://go.boarddocs.com/ma/hudsonma/Board.nsf/files/BQGMTB58471E/$file/Warrant%20Revision%20(2).pdf

To see the full warrant, including the text of the cut articles, click the link below. https://go.boarddocs.com/ma/hudsonma/Board.nsf/files/BQLM475788E8/$file/MAY%202020%20TM%20WARRANT.pdf