Internet bond could see Town Meeting

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/6/2021 5:28:54 PM
Modified: 1/6/2021 5:28:44 PM

The Peterborough Select Board discussed an upcoming broadband internet bond and the 2021 Town Meeting at their Tuesday meeting, which was recently promoted Town Administrator Nicole MacStay’s first meeting in her new role and former Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett’s last.

“Peterborough has been an excellent place to work,” Bartlett said, and that his nearly 15-year tenure since March 2006 has been “a pleasure.” Bartlett plans to continue working on the Main Street Bridge and library renovation projects on a contract basis. Select Board Chair Tyler Ward praised Bartlett’s dedication after watching him show up at the flooded Main Street Bridge construction site the day after Christmas. “I saw him on the temporary bridge ready to hold it in place if need be,” Ward said.

The upcoming broadband bond is an important part of the discussion when considering how to run the 2021 Town Meeting, MacStay said. The town anticipates voters being able to decide on a municipal bond that would provide broadband internet to all or some parts of the town’s underserved areas, she said, although the town is still waiting on details on the cost of the bond and the area it would affect after releasing a Request For Proposals this week, repeating a process started this summer in order to comply with bonding requirements, MacStay said.

The issue is that bond votes are usually conducted in person, by secret ballot during the Town Meeting’s open session, MacStay said, something that may not be an option depending on COVID-19 rates whenever the 2021 Town Meeting occurs. “We have to have that sorted out before we go to much further,” she said, and recommended the Select Board adopt the protocols recently passed by the state legislature allowing flexibility in format and scheduling of town meetings due to the ongoing pandemic, in advance of the town’s ultimate decision on meeting format in March.

“Somehow, some way, at some point, we will have a town meeting in 2021,” she said.

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