Mashpee Town Meeting

Voters participate in Mashpee’s June Town Meeting.

Mashpee voters are scheduled to gather in the high school gymnasium on Monday, October 19, at 7 PM to vote on a 20-article Town Meeting warrant.

The warrant includes housekeeping matters, as well as questions about jet ski usage and sewer design.

All attendees will be required to wear a face mask and socially distance for the duration of Town Meeting.

Article 18 asks Town Meeting to authorize the use of $490,000 for the design of a wastewater collection system for the stretch of Route 151 from the Old Barnstable Road intersection to the Falmouth town line.

The proposed sewer project comes as the Town of Mashpee advances plans for roadway improvements along Route 151. The article aims to avoid unnecessary expenses by ensuring that plans to sewer a portion of Route 151 are concurrent with plans to renovate the roadway.

The article proposes that funds for the design project come from three sources: $250,000 from money previously appropriated for a study of wastewater infrastructure at Joint Base Cape Cod, $200,000 from hotel/motel receipts reserved for wastewater purposes and $40,000 from the Capital Stabilization Account.

Town Manager Rodney C. Collins has told the selectmen that talks with Joint Base Cape Cod have not progressed since last year’s October Town Meeting appropriated $250,000 for the study of wastewater infrastructure at the joint base.

The selectmen unanimously recommend that article 18 pass. The finance committee recommended the passage of the article in a 4-1 vote.

Article 12, which proposes banning the use of jet skis on Ashumet Pond, is likely to generate debate. A similar article went before Town Meeting in October, only to be postponed due to confusion over the language.

The Town of Falmouth has long banned jet ski use on Ashumet Pond, which is in both Mashpee and Falmouth. However, without a similar rule in Mashpee, the ability to enforce the Falmouth ban is negligible.

Ashley Fisher, Mashpee’s director of natural resources, told the Mashpee selectmen in August that a 1989 study prepared for Mashpee and Falmouth found that jet skis affect water quality in the shallow, 203-acre pond. Falmouth passed its bylaw after the publication of the study.

A 4-1 vote by the Mashpee selectmen recommended the passage of Article 12. The finance committee voted unanimously for the passage of the article.

Article 10 proposes prohibiting the Town of Mashpee from purchasing, distributing or selling—except in emergency situations—any beverage in a single-use plastic bottle. The prohibition affects only municipal operations and does not include commercial retailers.

The municipal bottle ban was originally submitted by petition but had been postponed by Town Meeting this past June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Plastic bottles are a by-product of the fossil fuel industry; they do not biodegrade and can last forever” an explanation for the article says. “The rationale for this Municipal Plastic Bottle Ban rests on the assumption that government is established to protect the welfare of the people it governs.”

Article 16 asks Mashpee voters to declare a “climate emergency.”

“Passage of the article will indicate that the residents and government of Mashpee are committed to expeditiously reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero,” the article says.

Article 17 seeks “to acquire by gift, purchase or take by eminent domain” any land along Route 151 necessary to complete the proposed roadway improvements.

The land takings are expected to be small portions of property, an explanation by the finance committee says. “There will be no or little cost to accomplish this,” the committee says in its explanation.

Both the selectmen and the finance committee voted unanimously to approve article 17.

Town officials have indicated they will move to postpone indefinitely a vote on Article 20, which proposes the town acquire Gooseberry Island in Popponesset Bay.

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