Annual Town Meeting for People with Mobility Issues

Planning an annual town meeting during a pandemic is a huge challenge.  There are so many moving parts to accommodate.  With all the requirements to maintain social distance, counting votes, allowing questions, preparing for weather, etc., it’s a long list.

One item on the list is how do you accommodate people who may have mobility issues? 

For most people in town driving to the High School and walking to the football field is not a big deal.  For some though, it is not without its challenges.  We talked to some seniors about their concerns and went to Charlie Ticotsky from the Town Manager’s office to get some answers.  

We will present this as a Question and Answer dialog.  Feel free to ask us additional questions and we will be glad to try to get some answers.

  1. Parking for people with mobility issues.  Attendees are welcome to use any legal parking area in the vicinity of the football field. Like last year, extra handicap spaces will be available in the area closest to Sabourin Field (between the field and the high school)
  2. Getting from those handicapped parking spots onto the fieldThere is a slight hill from the parking lot near the tennis courts.  The hill will present a challenge for those in wheelchairs or walkers.  Or even people who are a little unsteady.  For those needing assistance making their way to the field (whether from a handicap space or other parking areas), a Police Department golf cart will be made available to escort folks to the entrance. We’d ask folks who don’t have a placard but want a ride on the golf cart to park by the tennis courts—we’ll put up signage reserving spaces for folks with mobility limitations.
  3. Getting from the entrance to the football field to their chair.  For some that could be a long walk.  Also, walking on the turf is a little unsteady for those with mobility issues.  Is there anything that can be done?  There will be seating reserved for those with mobility limitations. These seats will be close to the entrance in order to avoid a long walk on the turf.
  4. Chairs on the turf.  One person who went last year felt that the chairs on the turf felt “unsteady.”  While folding chairs are probably never going to be the most comfortable option, we are generally using the same system of chairs and plywood platforms as last year. The plywood is intended to both keep the seats steady and to protect the turf material. Feedback was generally positive after last year’s Town Meeting. If an attendee has a concern about a particular seat, a Town staff member on site would be happy to try to address any issues.
  5. Leaving Town Meeting.  For people with mobility issues getting up and leaving when they have had enough is a source of anxiety.  Will there be help available?  How does one request help?  If anyone would like assistance leaving, they can wave their voting placard and a member of Town staff will come over to see what assistance is needed. A Town staff member such as a member of the Police or Fire Department detail would be more than happy to help a resident navigate the exiting process, and the golf cart will be available to escort attendees back to their cars as well.
  6. Sun.  I know many people brought umbrellas last year.  Holding an umbrella for hours is not easy for anyone, much less a senior.   We will have a tent to the side of the seating area for folks to use to take a breather, stretch their legs, get a break from the sun, grab some water or a snack, etc.
  7. Bathroom.  Will there be access to handicap-accessible bathrooms?  Yes, there will be several portable restrooms including at least one that is handicap accessible.

More answers on the town’s web site:

Town Meeting – About 2021 Annual Town Meeting

We hope this will answer some of the concerns people have about attending the Town Meeting next week.  Please let us know if there are other concerns-we will do our best to get you answers.

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