Woolwich selectmen on Monday set the annual town meeting for Saturday, Aug. 22 and dedicated this year’s town report to the late Margaret Gardiner. Selectmen plan to finalize the 2020-2021 budget proposal Monday, July 7.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the board to reschedule the town meeting twice. Selectmen have gone back and forth over whether to hold it in Woolwich Central School or somewhere outdoors. The consensus Monday was for holding it under tents alongside the municipal building.
Chairman David King Sr. felt the school, where the meeting is traditionally held, was still the best location. “But, I honestly think people would be more comfortable attending if they were outdoors rather than inside,” he said.
The town owns two large open-air tents. Folding chairs could be placed under them arranged in accordance with social distancing recommendations. The municipal building’s parking lot is close enough for some people to sit in their cars and take part in the proceedings. King had high praise for the way Morse High School held its graduation outdoors at Wiscasset Municipal Airport.
Selectman Allison Hepler said the state is fine with holding outdoor town meetings when social distancing is maintained. The state recommends a 50-person capacity, per tent. “They don’t want people attending to intermingle,” she said, adding most people might feel safer outside in the open air.
Hepler said she would develop a list of guidelines for the town meeting and see if the meeting might be live-streamed, or possibly broadcast on the radio.
Town Administrator Kim Dalton will look into the cost of renting an outdoor public address system.
Selectman Jason Shaw suggested delaying the vote of the proposed marijuana ordinance until the November General Election. This would mean the public hearing on the ordinance would not be held until after town meeting. Selectman Dale Chadbourne said it might be better to have the voting take place at the town meeting. Before moving the marijuana vote to November, the board agreed to have Selectman Allen Greene meet with the Marijuana Ordinance Committee and get its input.
The 260th Woolwich Town Report will be dedicated to Gardiner, author, Morgan horse breeder and daughter of Maine governor William Gardiner. Margaret Gardiner died Feb. 13 at 98, at her home, Kennebec Morgan Farm on Phipps Point Road. As the town’s oldest resident, she held Woolwich’s ceremonial Boston Post Cane since 2017.