The COVID-19 pandemic will prevent some Town Meeting members from attending Monday’s meeting.
“There is still that issue, and I don’t personally think it was been addressed,” said Ken Buesseler, Precinct Two. “Nothing has changed since September, other than that rates have gone up dramatically in the state, locally and throughout the US.”
Mr. Buesseler sent an email to the more than 200 Town Meeting members who share their email on the town’s website. In this email, he noted the state’s COVID-19 infection rate has increased from 250 cases per day in September to nearly 2,000 cases per day. Falmouth’s incident rate increased from 2.3 cases per day to 4.4 cases per day in the same time frame.
Although Town Meeting is exempt from Governor Charles D. Baker Jr.’s guidance that there be a 10-person limit on indoor gatherings, Mr. Buesseler said this does not mean hundreds of people should gather to conduct the town’s business.
“Certainly, with the recent COVID news, putting a couple hundred people indoors, even if they keep their distance and wear their masks, doesn’t seem like a good idea,” he said.
In his email, he said the risk of the coronavirus will likely remain in April 2021. He said the town should consider a virtual Town Meeting.
“We should put our energy into a more inclusive and safe Town Meeting forum,” Mr. Buesseler wrote. “It will take effort, but so did the changes we put in place for the well-run elections last week. Given that conditions are worse and plans have not changed, I will again be making the personal choice not to attend next week’s Town Meeting. I just hope by April to have other choices.”
Peter L. Clark, Precinct One, received an excused absence in September.
“I am attending this time around, partially because the charter review committee has five articles, but also because this is a different situation, in which the warrant was kept very short,” Mr. Clark said.
There are just nine items on Monday’s warrant, compared to more than 40 in September. Given the nature of the warrant, Mr. Clark said Monday’s meeting may last less than one hour.
“I think the town has learned from September,” he said. “I hear, and I think, that people will be better about not loading up one side of the room, and instead spread out across the room.”
Town Meeting members are also being provided with KN95 masks.
Jay Zavala, Precinct Eight, said he is undecided about attending.
“I have an article which compels me to be there,” Mr. Zavala said. “I’m hoping, of course, that it will pass on the blanket vote. The board of assessors approved it and the board of selectmen recommended it, as printed.”
His article requests the Falmouth Select Board enter a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with Sol Customers Solutions, the company developing two photovoltaic solar arrays at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds on Nathan Ellis Highway (Route 151) in East Falmouth. Mr. Zavala said he is considering leaving Town Meeting early if the article passes on the blanket vote.
“If I didn’t have the article, I would be leaning much further toward not being there at all,” he said. “With the state of medical science today, I am considered at high risk. That was a compelling reason not to attend in September, and that has not changed.”
Approximately 76 Town Meeting members received an excused absence for September’s indoor meeting. If a member is uncomfortable attending the meeting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they can contact Town Clerk Michael C. Palmer at email@example.com to receive an excused absence.