FARMINGTON – Tuesday night’s Farmington selectboard meeting brought attention to determining a plan for the 2021 annual town meeting that is customarily held in March. It was unanimously approved to move the meeting later to April and host it by referendum with a public forum prior to it for community educational purposes. Based on what other towns, such as Wilton, have done in hosting meetings of such a size as the annual town meeting, members discussed two options, including doing an outdoor event. Considering the time of year though, that was rejected in favor of the secondary choice.
“The option I’m leaning towards is hosting it by referendum. It’s the most practical approach,” said Town Manager Richard Davis.
Currently, there is a maximum capacity of 50 people that can gather inside of a building, within the considerations of building square footage and maintaining social distancing. This was taken into account with the decision, especially since the annual town meeting typically attracts more than 100 people.
“I strongly encourage public input. We have to have it, especially this year,” said Chairmen Matthew Smith.
The nature of having the town meeting by referendum coupled with the predicament of managing the large crowd that it normally brings prompted a discussion on the necessity of having a public forum prior to the meeting. Though the location of such a public forum wasn’t decided upon, it was generally agreed that this would be required several days prior to the meeting to provide the public with the opportunity to be informed on the ballots to be voted on in the following town meeting.
“It would give the people the chance to ask questions and prepare for the town meeting, if they chose to come,” said selectboard member Josh Bell.
The details about the public forum are to come later, as the board deliberates more options for the official timeframe and location.
Farmington’s selectmen also approved the holdover of $4000 from the 2020 budget to be allocated to the Parks and Recreation Department at the request of Department Director Mat Foster. In a letter to the board, Foster said “this past year has been extremely difficult to secure contractors for doing smaller jobs…due to their increased demand and the short supply of contractors.”
The funds will be put towards the modification of the doors outside of the Community Center so that they might be better prepared for the possibility of snow and ice accumulation, as well as the installation of a new door in the basement weight room.
Interim Chief Shane Cote attended briefly to ask for the approval of a forfeiture of $759 in assets as a result of a drug overdose investigation. The board unanimously approved it. The Farmington Police Department will also be seeing a new permanent Chief soon, according to an update from Richard Davis. The search committee for the position will be meeting on Thursday to discuss applications and determine who will be interviewed.