HANSON — The Economic Development Committee met Monday, May 24 in preparation for a 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 1 presentation to the Board of Selectmen along with the EDC’s consultant Phillip Schaeffing on the rapid recovery grant.
All town departments, residents and business owners are encouraged to attend.
“We just wanted to make sure we weren’t caught flat-footed when we meet next week,” Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said during the brief Zoom session. “I think the way that we see this rolling out is that we’re going to have our consultant really take the reins and walk us through what the purpose of the local recovery planning grant is … what the format of the outreach will be.”
She said the EDC also would need to know what he will do with the information and next steps, which he has reviewed with the EDC, but needs to review for Selectmen.
“He speaks well and seems to be able to field questions well,” said Town Planner Deb Pettey, noting that Schaeffing, of the consulting firm Stantec has a PowerPoint presentation to stress current conditions. Pettey was instrumental in applying for the grant and organizing the forum, according to FitzGerald-Kemmett.
“It’s important for people to understand this is a planning grant, it’s not an action grant,” Pettey said. “That’s kind of hard to wrap your head around sometimes, when you are talking about what you would like to see happen, and we’re just trying to get a vehicle together to get to the action grants.”
The June 1 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, while in-person, will have multiple people participating in the meeting remotely.
“It could get confusing,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said, adding that she has full faith and confidence in Whitman-Hanson Community Access TV to make it work smoothly.
She asked that an email inbox be set up to enable those without access to cable TV or a computer to have their concerns and questions answered. Pettey said that could probably be arranged, if it hasn’t already been done.
“I’ve worried about that throughout COVID, that voices aren’t being heard,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said.
FitzGerald-Kemmett envisions an outline of the EDC’s mission and membership, introduce Schaeffing and review the purpose of the meeting before getting into the presentation. She wants to end with Schaeffing outlining how feedback from the meeting will be used in the grant process.
WHCA Executive Director Eric Dresser said there will be a lot of moving pieces that might make it seem awkward, but that could be a concern even if all the meeting participants were in the same room.
“This is obviously some uncharted territory, so it’s going to be a little bit seat-of-the-pants as we figure out how it’s going to work in terms of recognizing people,” Dresser said. He indicated that moderating conversation would be important.
A brief recess between the regular Selectmen’s meeting and the EDC presentation was also suggested.
Protocols, including prior registration for the session, are being prepared to prevent interruption — or Zoom-bombing — of the remote participants, Dresser said.
Kevin Curran said he wanted to ensure everyone’s questions get answered.
EDC Vice Chair Dan Bathalon said he was only concerned that the flow of the meeting be smooth.