WILMINGTON, MA — Following the recommendation of Wilmington Town Manager Jeff Hull, the Board of Selectmen recently decided to move the 2021 Annual Town Meeting — slated for Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 9am — from the High School to the Shriners Auditorium due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements.
“The auditorium provides more than enough space to accommodate expected turnout which was 296 registered voters and 14 non-residents in 2020,” explained Hull. “Adequate space will be available for registration, for WCTV’s set-up, and to provide seating for non-residents. The size of the Shriners Auditorium would allow for a similar set-up to the 2020 Annual Town Meeting with the appropriate social distancing. Keeping the bay doors open would provide adequate air circulation while removing the issue of weather as a factor for participants. The Shriners Auditorium is accessible to all, has adequate parking, and provides the necessary space and restroom facilities.”
Hull worried about holding the Annual Town Meeting under a tent on the WHS softball field, as the town did in late June 2020, due to the unpredictability of the early May weather. Inclement weather would make for an uncomfortable environment in an outdoor venue and potentially wreak havoc on WCTV and their equipment.
The move to the Shriners Auditorium also comes with a significant cost savings to the town as the Shriners refused to accept any sort of rental payment for the space. The Shriners actually held the May 1, 2021 date for the Town and turned down other interested parties looking to rent their facility. When the town asked to at least rent the tables and chairs from the Shriners, Sheila Bissett — the Building and Events Manager — refused, insisting the Shriners would donate those too.
“Between hosting the elections, future vaccine clinics and now Town Meeting, the Shriners continue to display an incredible level of generosity to the town,” remarked Hull.
“The Shriners are a wonderful part of our community. We thank them for their generosity,” added Selectmen Chair Jonathan Eaton.
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