By Susan Ovans
At tonight’s meeting, Hull’s Board of Selectmen will discuss the feasibility of calling a special town meeting for voters to decide whether to authorize the issuance of a bond to build a synthetic playing field at Hull High School.
That possibility is listed as the 8 p.m. item on the selectmen’s March 7 agenda that was posted Tuesday.
Although the field is expected to cost about $2 million, no precise figure has yet been determined for the bond authorization that must, by law, be decided at a town meeting.
The special town meeting would take place at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 6, according to the selectmen’s agenda. The annual town meeting, which would have begun at 7 p.m. that evening, would be adjourned so that voters could decide the field article and any others that end up on the special town meeting warrant.
Once voters completed work on the special town meeting warrant, they would again resume deliberations on the regular TM warrant.
It’s not unusual for the selectmen to convene a special town meeting within the annual one, but it is usually done to allow the town to pay bills that were received after the annual town meeting warrant closed, or for similar municipal housekeeping matters.
If selectmen this week vote to place the field article on a special town meeting warrant, it will be the first time in recent memory that a proposal was taken out of the random lottery system, used to establish the order by which proposals are acted on at Hull’s town meetings, and instead given a separate forum.
Selectmen Chairman Domenico Sestito said Wednesday that Town Manager Philip Lemnios had suggested scheduling a separate meeting.
“The Town Manager is suggesting this option so we do not run into the situation that occurred several years ago with a late night vote that was objected to by many residents,” Sestito said in an email in response to a Times query. “This action will allow for everyone who desires to participate to plan their attendance and to have an opportunity to vote on this issue. In addition, knowing the time when the question will come up will ensure we can adequately plan a large crowd in the High School Gym.
“This would be the only article the Board places on the Special [warrant], and most likely the only article to be heard that evening given the expectation for a large turn-out for this question,” Sestito said. “The Turf Field proposal has been a topic of intense debate in the community for three years. By using a Special Town meeting for this topic everyone who is interested in participating in the discussion and vote on the issue will know exactly when the topic will be considered. This will allow both the opponents and proponents to focus on the merits of the proposal and the process is transparent.”
According to Town Clerk Lori West, if the selectmen do schedule a special town meeting, she will have to open a warrant that would allow petitioners who gain the required number of signatures to insert their own proposals for STM action.
In addition to the field proposal, selectmen this week also will consider a liquor license transfer for a successor restaurant to the former Bridgeman’s at 145 Nantasket Ave., and will again meet with the owners of Steamboat Wharf Marina relative to their request for a lease amendment.