There’s nothing on the town calendar for today, which gives me a little time (not too much - don’t worry) for reflection on the 14 hours of Town Meeting and the questions and learning that come up through that experience. For those of you who didn’t follow along tweet by tweet (How dare you!), here is a link to all that was decided at Town Meeting this May. Remember, this was the annual budget meeting, which was why it was so painfully long.
Some observations and questions I have after participating via both in-person and hybrid formats:
Hybrid is tough to pull off, and expensive. But we can do it! This last meeting, Wednesday, May 18, went super smoothly. Should we? is a different question altogether. There are compelling arguments on each side. We’ll no doubt be hearing much more about this in coming weeks & months.
We’ve got some really old stuff we need to work on upgrading - from school infrastructure to technology to sewage pump stations, there are some projects that are a decade overdue. Is there a way to be more proactive in planning for these improvements?
The priorities of residents for the town sometimes conflict with the priorities of individuals. There is often widespread agreement about what the town needs, but when individual articles come up there is much debate about whether this is the right time/location/approach. We see this with the Sculpture Park article, where the committee was requesting an amount equivalent to 0.01% of our annual operating budget, yet there was a very long discussion. We see this with the Town Center Multifamily (Roger’s Piano) Zoning article; people agree that we need more housing, but enough didn’t agree that was the way to achieve it that the article was voted down.
What are the priorities of Burlington? One Town Meeting Member (forgive me, I can’t remember who and I don’t really want to put people on blast here anyway) said we’re not a historical town like Lexington or Concord. Is that true? What do we, as a community, prioritize? How do we decide on and communicate these things? There is a master plan, but I don’t think many of us in the community know about it. (💡 New article idea alert 💡)
Anyway, just some general musings after watching 14 hours of passionate discussion by people who have their own individual priorities and also care deeply about our town. Feel free to add to the discussion!
Thank your Town Meeting Members
You know I’m a math teacher, right? If you didn’t, now you do. So how ’bout a math lesson?
126 Town Meeting Members X 14 hours of Town Meeting = 1,764 volunteer hours of Town Meeting - and that’s just rears-in-seats time. You can easily add another 200 hours of preparation time, not to mention all the work that went in to organization, setup, takedown, and all the other technical aspects I’m not thinking of. So be sure to recognize and thank your Town Meeting Members and all the technical staff who participated in this Town Meeting.
(Also, attendance will be published shortly. Definitely check in with representatives with poor attendance and be sure they’re ok, and if necessary encourage them to recommit to representing your precinct in September and beyond.)
This Weekend in Burlington
The headline is that it’s going to be, like, a hundred degrees this weekend. So, no matter what you do, please be sure to stay cool and hydrated. Three big things that are happening this weekend, and hopefully I’m not missing anything:
Tonight, 7:00: Music Bingo at Billerica Elks to benefit Burlington Community Scholarship Foundation
Saturday, 10-1: Health Fair on the Common
Sunday, 2-4: Scarlet Lends a Helping Hoof Pre-Launch Party at the Made in Burlington Store
Hope to see you at one or all!
Some home improvement humor for you today.
Back in the early days Burlington was Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” Play. If you want to talk about the transformation from that to now, since I arrived here back in 1949 at 18months old and still live here let me know. Plus Burlington turns 225 in 2024. Followed by 2025 celebrating Lexington and Concord”Shot heard around the World Day”. Finishing off with “USA 250” in 2026