, Newburyport, MA

April 23, 2014

Change day for West Newbury Town Meeting

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

A group of West Newbury residents would like to change the annual Town Meeting from Monday night at 7 p.m. to daytime on a Saturday.

Historically, Town Meeting took place on a Saturday in April. After a long winter, when roads were once again easy to travel, but before spring planting, residents would gather to decide on the business of the town. It was a social gathering as well, a time to reconnect with your neighbors.

The Town Meeting changed to a Monday night in 1979. At that time, the town determined that a night meeting would better meet the needs of its citizens. We feel it is time, once again, to consider the current needs of our citizens.

The Monday night meeting has become a two- and sometimes three-night event. We believe a Saturday meeting would eliminate this issue.

West Newbury has 4,396 residents, of which 3,251 are registered voters. The attendance at Town Meeting does not reflect these numbers. The night meeting appears difficult for many people to attend due to changing obligations.

Many of our residents are commuters who do not get home until after 6 or 7 p.m. After a long day at work, attending a meeting lasting well into the night holds little appeal.

It is much easier to find sitters who can sit on a Saturday than on a late school night.

Residents who no longer drive at night may not be able to attend Town Meeting.

A Saturday meeting would enable the town to settle the majority of its business.

A day meeting in late April works well, as outdoor yard work is not yet fully underway, and fewer people are on vacation.

In summary, we believe changing the Town Meeting to a Saturday will make for a more productive and better-attended meeting.

Jacqueline A. Johnston

West Newbury