Daily Buzz | Select Board Discusses Flag and Town Common Policy
More discussion to come
Good morning, Burlington!
Wednesday already? Where does the time go?
Flag and Town Common Discussion
I have to be honest and say I missed most of the Select Board meeting on Monday night. I was just enjoying playing in the dirt with Baby Buzz so much that I spaced on it, and didn’t hop on until right when they started talking about the Town Common Use policy. Nothing was decided, but I thought I would break it down a little to make the information a little more transparent and accessible. You can watch the discussion at BCAT’s Government Coverage page on Facebook or on their website. The discussion begins around 2:10:00.
This agenda item has a few different components:
Who can use the Town Common
Whether or not a community flag can be flown somewhere (anywhere!)
Who can put up a banner in the space at the corner of Cambridge and Bedford Streets
Who Can Use the Town Common
This conversation has come up before, but most recently it came up when a family asked to use the Common for an event (a baby shower, I think, but don’t quote me). Select Board members were concerned there wasn’t a clear policy in place for the kind of event that can be held on the Town Common.
We’ve held lots of town events there, like Recreation Department concerts and Truck Day, as well as events from outside organizations like Diwali (which is coming up next weekend!) and LGBTQ+ Pride. But recently individuals have been requesting to use the space for events like weddings and showers. I don’t know how much Select Board members care which individual events are allowed to occur on the Common, but the general sense I got was that they’d like to have a policy in place. So a draft policy was created (see p.74 of this document), and there was some discussion about this policy on Monday. More input will be given, more discussion will be had, and Town Counsel will work with the Select Board to be sure the policy is legally sound. But the public will have the opportunity to hear more and hopefully provide input at a later date.
But do you have a flag?
There’s been a discussion going on for nearly two years now about having a community flagpole somewhere in town, whether it’s on the Common or somewhere else. The idea was voted down unanimously last year by the Select Board after a community member cited the U.S. Flag Code. I skimmed the Flag Code for anything that would prohibit a community flag pole being flown and didn’t see anything. Feel free to let me know where to look if I’m missing something.
There was also a Supreme Court case recently in which the city of Boston was made to fly a flag they had denied prior, because they did not have a policy in place for determining what flags they would and would not fly. This decision was cited at the meeting by Select Board member Tigges, and Chair Priest clarified that the issue with Boston was that they had no policy. Once we establish a policy, the concern about opening up the town to a lawsuit about flying or not flying a particular flag isn’t as great. Member Runyan also mentioned how divisive the political climate has gotten over the last several years and his concern that using a community pole to display flags we traditionally haven’t could add to that divide.
My sense was that there will eventually probably be a policy on flags, but it will be separate from the Town Common Use Policy. More on this to come, but definitely keep an eye on the upcoming agendas if you have an opinion about this topic.
Who can use the banner space at the corner of the common
This wasn’t really discussed, but it did come up a meeting or two ago that some banners have been placed in that space which weren’t approved by the Select Board. More to come, I’m sure, on this one.
Busy day today!
4:00 PM - Board of Assessors meets for their regular meeting. They’ll hear from the Town Appraiser about real estate values for FY23.
4:00-9:00 PM - Burlington Garden Club Flatbread Fundraiser: Take the night off from cooking on Thursday, September 15th from 5:00 - 9:00pm and support the Burlington Garden Club at Flatbread Bedford. Enjoy a dine-in meal or order a couple of pizzas to go (now with half-baked options) and then take a chance on winning a fabulous raffle. Proceeds support the Garden Club's yearly scholarship for a Burlington High or Shawsheen Tech High School senior.
6:00 PM - Recreation Commission will discuss appointment of an Assistant Director, the contract to renovate the Simonds Park basketball courts, and more.
6:00 PM - Shawsheen Policy Subcommittee will meet to discuss all kinds of different policies, including the MASC policy manual, acceptable use/social media policy for staff, and others.
6:30 PM - Cub Scout recruitment event at Fox Hill Gym: Do you have a boy or girl in K through 5 interested in joining the Cub Scouts? Please join us as we kick off the 2022 school year with a fun event! Join us for some fun and find out more about the Cub Scouts!
6:30 PM - Zoning Bylaw Review Committee will meet to discuss September warrant articles, as well as some upcoming items like Town Center Multifamily zoning (lol because it keeps coming back), the Master Plan, MBTA Communities, and more. (Join online)
Field Hockey: Varsity girls lost 3-1 and JV girls lost 2-0 at home against Reading
Soccer: Freshman boys lost 9-0 to Reading
3:30 - Varsity Boys @ Woburn
Girls’ Volleyball @ Lexington
4:15 - Varsity
5:30 - JV
5:30 - Freshman
4:15 - Varsity and JV Boys’ Soccer home against Lexington
4:15 - Varsity and JV Girls’ Soccer @ Lexington
4:30 - Varsity Girls’ Swim at home against Stoneham
That’s it for today. See you tomorrow!