By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Hudson will hold its town meeting outside, next month, following a lengthy conversation during the Oct. 19 Board of Selectmen meeting.
Endorsed by an eventual unanimous agreement, current plans now call for a socially distanced event in the Hudson High School parking lot starting at 12 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14.
“I understand that the logistics are going to be more difficult [outside]…but when you’re in a confined space, it’s easier to spread the virus,” Hudson Health Director Kelli Calo said. “We have to do the best that we can do to keep the public safe.”
As some members of the Board entered their Oct. 19 meeting, seeming to favor an indoor event, Calo led a push to move proceedings outdoors.
Local residents Jane Chertoff and Jeannie Vineyard joined in support as Calo noted that she personally did not attend this summer’s rescheduled indoor town meeting due to her own concerns about indoor COVID-19 transmission.
“I don’t know how we can’t go that route,” Chertoff said, addressing the board and its suggestions to meet indoors, once again.
As conversation shifted to an outdoor meeting, some proposed both the nearby Morgan Bowl and the Riverside Baseball Field as potential sites.
A combination of concerns over handicap accessibility and damage to those fields, however, then pivoted to focus on the parking lot.
There are worries about whether cold temperatures or the prospect of snow will turn possible participants away from town meetings next month.
Likewise, though, many said they felt turned away back in June, when Hudson went forward with an indoor town meeting. Socially distanced, that event made many uncomfortable as it gathered more than 150 people in the HHS auditorium.
Contextualizing these two meetings within the arc of the pandemic, Calo also noted the June meeting took place at a relative valley in terms of local COVID-19 transmission in Hudson.
Now, meanwhile, infection rates are surging, with 67 new cases in just the first three weeks of October heightening the risk of an indoor meeting.
The situation is hard, town leaders agree. Now that a decision has been made, though, administrative staffers from the Health Department to the Town Clerk’s office say they’re doubling down on preparations.
“We’re trying to do the right thing for everybody,” Selectman Scott Duplisea said. “This is not a perfect situation…But we’re trying to do this and come up with the best solution.”