Sunapee Selectmen Debate and Set Date for Summer Town Meeting

Sunapee will hold a summer town meeting Tuesday, August 4 at the town hall on Edgemont Road. It will start at 7 p.m. in the lower level meeting room. The board of selectmen agreed last Monday on the date and location after discussing the purpose, audience and recent turn-out for the summer meeting.

Aside from town officials, department heads and committee representatives, fewer than two-dozen people attended last year’s summer town meeting, according to Town Manager Donna Nashawaty.

Last week, Sunapee Select Board Chairman Steve White questioned the benefit of continuing the practice after this year unless public interest and attendance increases. Perhaps it’s time for a change, he lamented.

Nashawaty tossed out some ideas to replace the meeting format: Make a video of department heads that can be played at the library and perhaps aired on the town’s cable channel or produce and distribute hand-outs that contain summaries of town news and updates.

After a 2009 summer meeting was agreed upon, Selectman Emma Smith asked how it would be publicized and suggested the high school cafeteria as a meeting location. Let’s anticipate people will turn out, Smith added. Eventually, the board agreed upon using the Town Hall meeting room. It can seat 75, Nashawaty said.

Selectman Fred Gallup said the meetings began before SB2 and as a way to inform residents that could not attend town meeting.

The town and school system of Sunapee adopted Senate Bill 2 in 1997, an official ballot law that provides for a deliberative session in early February followed by a ballot vote on Town Meeting Day, which is held on the second Tuesday in March. Prior to SB2, Sunapee debated and voted on budgets and warrant articles using the traditional town meeting format.

At the June 29 selectmen meeting, the board and town manager also discussed the cost of communicating town information to the public. Gallup questioned how much time and money should be used. Nashawaty said producing and mailing the annual Town Report to all Sunapee households cost $12,000, and many towns no longer do this. Newport does not mail its town report, Selectman Bill Roach observed.

As for informing people about the summer town meeting, Selectman Charlotte Brown said, many people including summer residents do not go to the post office and many may have little need to go to the town hall. The town uses both locations to post notices.

To notify the public, the board discussed using a street banner, sandwich boards and ads in the local media, and by telling people that come to Town Hall.

Nashawaty discussed the benefits of acquiring an electronic, portable sign that could be used in the future for such purposes, while Smith suggested using the signage space on Sherburne Gym. However, the gym-side sign might not be available to the town during summer, Nashawaty said.

As for summer town meeting and town communication, send us your comments and ideas. Also, you can communicate directly with the Town of Sunapee via its Frontdesk. Email: frontdesk@town.sunapee.nh.us.

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