Town Meeting members, mark your calendars.
The Board of Selectmen Monday set the date of Nov. 14 for a special Town Meeting, contingent upon a School Committee vote that it’s prepared to move forward with a Bridge/Bowman school building project and necessary information campaigns.
The selectmen will close the warrant to citizens petition articles no later than 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3. They intend to sign the warrant no later than Oct. 5, most likely at a summit meeting, where the selectmen, School Committee and other boards will discuss the Bridge/Bowman and Estabrook School building projects.
A handful of housecleaning items are likely to join the Bridge and Bowman project on the warrant. There has also been talk of a petitioner’s article related to a plan to transform the Dana Home into an inn/restaurant.
Monday’s vote came after objections from Selectman Peter Kelley and resident Dawn McKenna, who both expressed concern that the selectmen would set a special Town Meeting date before the School Committee asked for it.
But that didn’t bother the other board members, who said every indication since a June summit meeting, including last Tuesday’s School Committee meeting, has pointed toward a fall Town Meeting.
Kelley, who reiterated his opposition to spending taxpayer money on renovations to Bridge and Bowman schools, said his problems were with the lack of specific information and the School Committee has not yet requested a Town Meeting.
“We don’t have the message we really should have from the School Committee at this point,” he said. “There is too much still to be determined. I have never seen a vote by the selectmen to advance a position of the school committee before it asks.”
McKenna, one of two residents who filed Open Meeting Law complaints against the School Committee this past June, said her problem was with process and that she’d feel better if the selectmen’s vote came after a public vote by the School Committee.
“There has not been, at least in my visioning of it, any kind of thing that would satisfy a concern that has been raised by a very large group of citizens about process and procedure,” she said.
In meetings over the summer, officials have been working toward a special Town Meeting vote on the Bridge/Bowman project; an election with ballot questions on debt exclusion votes for the Bridge/Bowman and Estabrook projects and a spring Town Meeting vote on the Estabrook project. The town is not working with the state for the Bridge/Bowman project, but it is working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority on Estabrook.
After the meeting Monday night, the selectmen said they were unsure what would happen if a Dana Home article emerges and the School Committee fails to hold up its end of the deal. However, a few of them said they were not concerned about that scenario playing out.
“It’s not a big deal,” said Selectman Norman Cohen, who noted nothing he heard at the School Committee’s meeting last Tuesday “would indicate that they wouldn’t be ready.”