ORLEANS — If democracy dies in darkness, as The Washington Post’s slogan declares, it appears to thrive in sunlight, even in the midst of a pandemic.
About 400 voters turned out Saturday morning for an outdoor annual town meeting at the Nauset Regional Middle School track. Many sat in socially-distanced pairs, with some sporting colorful umbrellas. Most wore masks.
An operating budget for almost $40 million was approved for Fiscal Year 2021, which begins July 1. The sum of $12,218,000 was added to the funds available to build the downtown sewer collection system, the treatment plant, and the disposal area, pending approval of a debt exclusion vote for the borrowing June 23. Town meeting approved two other projects that will also appear on the ballot: $1,700,500 for preliminary design work on a sewer collection system for Meetinghouse Pond and further investigation of permeable reactive barriers to alter nitrogen in groundwater, and $400,000 for interim air quality improvements at the fire station.
By well more than the required two-thirds majority, voters agreed to spend $775,000 in Community Preservation funds to purchase 2.5 acres along the Namequoit River leading into Arey’s Pond for conservation and recreation.
The meeting dispatched 56 annual and special town meeting articles in two-and-one-half hours. “Thank you,” Moderator David Lyttle said at adjournment. “It was quite an ordeal for all of you in the heat. It just shows that we’re in this together and that when we work together, we can move forward.”
A full story on town meeting will appear in Thursday’s Cape Cod Chronicle.
This story was updated on June 22 to include additional details.