CHATHAM – In the run-up to next month's annual summer town meeting, members of the summer residents advisory committee have been busy talking with town officials and others to assess the major issues facing the town.
In the past few weeks, the group, which meets Fridays at 9 a.m. at the annex, has held discussions with Town Manager Jill Goldsmith and Chairman of Selectmen Jeffrey Dykens, Finance Director Alix Heilala, Finance Committee Chairman Steve Daniels and Harbormaster Stuart Smith.
This Friday the group meets with Director of Natural Resources Dr. Robert Duncanson to talk about water, sewers and pending repairs to the fish pier; on Aug. 5 Coastal Resources Director Ted Keon will discuss dredging and erosion; and on Aug. 12, businessman David Oppenheim will represent the ad hoc committee on downtown parking regarding the ongoing efforts to ease traffic and parking congestion. The final Friday meeting of the summer on Aug. 19 will feature a video presentation on affordable housing.
“The tremendous amount of information that gets made available by town staff is marvelous,” said SRAC Chairman Michael Waters. “They're very cooperative with the summer residents advisory committee, always willing to give us their time. So we've learned a lot.”
All this information gathering informs the group's annual summer town meeting, an informal gathering geared to summer residents that will be held at the annex on Tuesday, Aug. 2 at 7 p.m. This year marks the 70th summer town meeting, no doubt one of the longest-running events of its kind on the Cape, where both summer and year-round residents are welcome.
A number of town officials – including Goldsmith, Dykens, Heilala and most department heads – will be on hand for the session, either to make presentations during the “State of the Town” segment or available to answer questions. Moderator William Litchfield will run the session, which will include an update on recent town issues and projects by SRAC members, an update on dredging projects by Keon, and a discussion about water and wastewater.
With the retirement from the committee of Hugh Moulton, the presentation of this year's Financial Scorecard, a regular feature of the summer meeting for years, will be made by committee member Jill MacDonald, Waters said, though putting the scorecard together has been a “multi-person task.” MacDonald will also be heading up the discussion on water use issues, town wells and wastewater. Waters said the committee wants to stress to both year-round residents and summer residents that although there's been in a pause in the town's sewer project, there remains a lot of work to do to expand sewers to areas around embayments where nutrient loading is a problem. Additional work, and financial outlays, will be continuing, he said.
Along with Moulton, Hal Kraus and Bob Champlin also left the committee this year, Waters noted. Alternates Christina Dykstra Mead and Jamie Meehan were named regular members of the committee, but there remains one opening for a regular member and two for alternates. He urged anyone interested in serving to fill out a talent bank application available on the town's website.
At the end of the summer, the group traditionally presents a report to the selectmen on its findings through its regular meetings and the summer town meeting. Waters said the group's meetings are all recorded and available to view through the town's website, and they welcome participation and input.
“We're always looking for feedback from summer residents,” he said.