Southampton fall TM OK’s pickleball courts, rejects money for computers

  • Southampton Town Hall.

Staff Writer
Published: 10/19/2020 6:21:11 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — Voters at last weekend’s fall Town Meeting gave the go-head for construction of two pickleball courts and OK’d a new bylaw to protect wetlands, while narrowly rejecting funding for six desktop computers for town use.

Seven out of eight articles on the warrant at Saturday’s meeting passed, amid a higher than normal participation level from younger members of the community. Many of the approximately 100 people who attended were younger residents.

“The participation at this meeting turned the tide to a new generation of younger voters,” Town Moderator Robert Floyd said. “I am the most proud moderator in the whole commonwealth.”

Floyd said that Article 8, a wetlands protection bylaw, and Article 7, which provided $115,000 in Community Preservation Act funding for the construction of the pickleball courts, drew much discussion.

The pickleball courts will be located in Conant Park, and the money is being transferred to the Parks Commission.

The wetlands protection bylaw was promulgated by the Conservation Commission, and Select Board Chairwoman Maureen Groden has said that it will provide guidance to the commission in its work.

The lone item to fail, Article 5, would have transferred $7,600 from the capital stabilization fund to the Town Hall IT capital budget to fund the purchase and installation of six desktop computers and software and operating systems. The article failed, with 45 in favor and 48 against.

Town Administrator Ed Gibson said that the town is hoping to get funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which would fund laptops for department heads. If that happens, money would be freed up to replace the six computers requested at Town Meeting. Gibson said that’s why Town Accountant Vicki Leigh Moro spoke against the article.

Gibson said this laptops plan would allow department heads to work from home if COVID-19 necessitated that.

The meeting took place outdoors at Labrie Field, and lasted about 90 minutes. For COVID-19 safety purposes, chairs were spaced 6 feet apart at the meeting.

Floyd estimated that about 100 people attended the meeting, and he said that this turnout was more than the typical indoor special Town Meeting. Gibson praised the good weather, and said that the meeting was run very well.

Floyd said that more young people than normal participated at the Town Meeting, and that young people also actively participated with questions. He credited this to the pandemic motivating them to get involved with their communities.

“I think we’re in the pandemic shift in Southampton,” said Floyd.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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