Dates Set for 2012 Town Meetings [POLL]

Find out when Town Meetings will be held this year and how the town plans to prevent schedule conflicts.

Town Meetings are held annually on the first Monday in June and October. This year, Annual Town Meeting will be held on June 4 and October Town Meeting will be held on Oct. 1.

Resident Deanna Castro attended the Selectmen's meeting Monday and asked if the board would consider approaching other organizations in town, including youth sports, the Parks and Recreation Department and churches, to see if they would consider canceling practices, classes and other events on the days of Town Meeting in order to get more people to attend.

"Will you enteratin a communication moratorium so that we can maximize participation in our communities efforts?" Castro asked.

She mentioned that last year, on the night of Town Meeting in June, there were other events taking place, including senior prom, Little League playoffs, tryouts for soccer and religious classes. As a resident who is involved in the community, she would like to see the maximum number of people participating in Town Meeting, but realizes that some parents face schedule conflicts and barriers that could be avoided.

The board agreed to communicate dates and times with other organizations. Selectman Michael Prisco took it a step further and suggested that the Parks and Recreation Department not hand out permits for park use during Town Meetings.

Selectman Stephen O'Leary disagreed with that idea, and noted that he coached his children for three seasons a year while they were growing up and playing sports, and was able to make decisions on when to attend a meeting and when to attend a practice.

Selectmen Chairman Robert Mauceri ended the conversation saying, "We have grown-up people living in town, if they want to go to Town Meeting, they are going to go to Town Meeting."

Do you think parents should be relieved of the burden of conflict or make the decision on their own? Take our poll and let us know!

Joe Veno January 26, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Shutting down the town because of Town Meeting is the crazyiest idea I have ever heard of. I have gone to Town Meeting for many,many years and it is always the same people there. Bob and Steve are correct on this. If they want to go they will go.
Maureen Vacca January 26, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Thank you Deanna for your passion! I agree, it is a shame that more people do not get involved in making decisions that impact services to our town. Perhaps one approach is to encourage folks to coordinate efforts in carpooling kids, etc. Parents don't need to attend practices, or religious classes or tryouts (not all of them anyway). But parents do want to attend games (especially playoffs) and the prom parade. What about moving the start of town meeting to a later time? Just a thought.... Maureen Vacca
Mel Webster January 26, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I also appreciate Deanna's passion and commitment. And, I also agree that if we do a better job of letting residents know the dates of important town meetings and elections, then we might get better turnouts. However, I strongly disagree with closing town parks on the dates of town meetings, which was discussed at the last selectmen's meeting. I also disagree with moving events, such as the senior prom, which has been held on the Monday of senior week for as long as I can remember. Closing parks and changing dates of other events is not necessarily going to increase attendance at town meetings. We can't force people to be interested or to participate. We can only make sure they know well enough in advance when these important events are going to take place. It has always been my experience that if people make something a priority -- like a town meeting or an election --- they will find a way to get there. The best that we can do is to make sure all organizations in town -- from youth sports to school officials -- are well aware of these dates in advance. We also can ask them, if at all possible, to not schedule events on these dates. Legislating park closings and forcing people to change the dates of events is not the way to go. People need to take their own initiative to participate. We need more people to follow the lead of Deanna Castro, Marci Bailey and others -- get involved and make things happen.
Chris Fuccione January 26, 2012 at 05:31 PM
When I lived in town I made it a habit to try and go to town meeting when I could. Most of the time the issues did not matter to me because I was not a property owner( I lived with my parents). The thing I noticed that with the exception of a few people that would go to every town meeting and elected officials, most of the people that were there had a item on the agenda (in other words special interests). Question I have is the open town meeting an idea that was good but is outdated? Would a representative town meeting be better for town?
Joe Veno January 26, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Chris, It would not be better. The people who attend town meeting now are the ones who would run for the seats in the election. And if you were there and interested in a certian article you could not vote on it unless you were one of the elected town meeting members. I also do not like it when a vote is taken and half the place empties out..On the other hand if you are opposed to an article you can vote against it also.. .
Monica Gregoire January 26, 2012 at 09:54 PM
What are the parents of infants or toddlers doing with their children during the meeting? Children in this age group usually go to bed early...
Marci Bailey January 27, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Monica: NRUE has provided free childcare at some, but not all, Town Meetings. There will be free, onsite childcare sponsored by the ballot question committee, Invest in North Reading, at the March 19 Special Town Meeting, where we will consider the Middle School/High School question. Granted, it probably keeps the little ones up past their bedtimes, but it does offer an opportunity for parents to attend. There will be more information forthcoming as the ballot question committee ramps up, but in the meanwhile if you have questions or would like to sign up, e-mail childcare@investinnorthreading.org. When our kids were little, my husband and I did our best for one of us to get to the meeting. When critical issues were at hand, we got a babysitter at home so both of us could attend.
Monica Gregoire January 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Thank you for the information Marci.
Jeffrey Yull January 28, 2012 at 03:30 AM
This is what brings us together. By communicating amongst ourselves, neighbor to neighbor, parent to parent, home owner to home owner. We all have a stake in the result. This onto itself should have us realize the importance of our attendance at the upcoming Special Town Meeting. For those who don't realize the importance of Town Meeting, special or otherwise, they are short changing themselves and their families. It is here, in Little Town USA, where the fundamentals of government are most important. This is how our country was built. The decisions we make at Town Meeting many times have a more direct impact on our families, than at the state and federal levels. It is this understanding and appreciation which should tell us what to do, not five people in a room. It is your town, your money, your house and your children. How many more reasons does one need?


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