LtE: Snow Shoveling and Town Meeting; Citizens Petition on Pickleball

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Hello Select Board:

This email is regarding my concerns with two discussions that took place during your meeting of September 12, 2023.  


During your meeting, the chair seemed to be referring to the previous iteration of the snow removal bylaw as “passing” town meeting in the past. However, that is not what actually happened. As shown in the town meeting minutes from November of 2022 (see below), the previous snow shoveling article (article 23 from November 2022 town meeting) did not “pass” town meeting at all. Rather town meeting voted to indefinitely postpone this article.  Moreover, if you read reporting about this meeting (e.g., this Reading Post article at ), it makes it clear that town meeting raised multiple concerns about Article 23,. For example, the Post story states, “After much discussion, Article twenty-three was also indefinitely postponed by Town Meeting. This citizen petition article asked Town Meeting to require owners of buildings downtown to shovel the sidewalks in front of their buildings by 9:00am after a snowstorm. Several Town Meeting members pointed out that there was a lack of specificity in the motion in several places. These questions included who shovels the snow, where snow is to be placed, what a full sidewalk means, and how far downtown extends. Town Counsel Ivria Fried also pointed out that the proposal as presented would not be enforceable as it is not a bylaw or an ordinance. It was suggested that the issue be presented to the Bylaw Committee for review and resubmitted at a future Town Meeting.”

As the Post story makes clear, there was not a resounding demand or approval at all from November 2022 town meeting about this article on the warrant. Rather, it was indefinitely postponed as noted above and as shown in the below image of the minutes.  


In addition, I was troubled by the direction part of the pickleball court discussion took at the 9/12/2023 select board meeting. In particular, I was concerned that several select board members appeared to be strongly discouraging the pickleball court proponents from exercising their charter-provided right to consider a citizen proposed warrant article regarding temporary pickleball courts in the Burbank Ice Arena. The discouragement included mentions of how their group would not be following a “process,” that it is too close to the deadline, that it would be (allegedly) leapfrogging over other items in the capital plan, etc. I do not recall any select board members expressing similar concerns with past citizen proposed warrant articles, such as when the citizens associated with the above-listed article 23 put it forth in fall of 2022. I also do not recall such lecturing about timelines or process when another group of citizens put forth, I believe at the last possible date they could do so, article 9 from November 2021 town meeting, regarding proposing a moratorium on 40R developments. Citizens who may or may not put forth their own proposed warrant article have every right under our charter to do so before the deadline. I realize and respect that select board members have the right to express their personal opinions, but I do find it troubling that only certain groups of citizens seem to be being discouraged from exercising a legal right and not others. Furthermore, regarding the notion that pickleball courts would appear to be jumping over other items in our capital plan, I respectfully disagree. As select board member Haley noted, pickleball courts WERE in our capital plan, albeit at a different location, but were removed from the capital plan by town staff earlier this summer. A group of citizens who organize and come up with an economical and doable solution, on such short notice in response to the unexpected removal of a town-meeting approved capital plan item, should be praised, not discouraged.   

Marianne Downing
Heather Drive

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