By Carol Meyer
The Town of Hingham could have a new, much-needed public safety facility in the not-too-distant future if all goes as planned.
As a follow-up to Town Meeting's support for funding a feasibility study and conceptual design plans for this proposed project, the Selectmen voted recently to enter into a purchase and sale agreement on a three-acre parcel at 335 Lincoln Street, where Russo Marine is now located, for that purpose.
The town has until Nov. 30 as a due diligence period. If the proposal moves forward as the board and public safety officials hope, voters will decide whether to purchase the property for $5.475 million at a Special Town Meeting this fall.
"The police department has definitely outgrown its current headquarters at Town Hall since moving there in the late 1990s," Chief Glenn Olsson said recently.
Such a facility would include a satellite fire station and a new police station -- which would free up about 40 parking spaces at Town Hall currently used by police department personnel and allow for a potential expansion and renovation of the adjacent senior center -- which has outgrown its current space -- into the area now occupied by the police department.
By Carol Meyer
I know we are all more than grateful for frontline workers and the tremendous sacrifices they are making during the current health crisis, even as things seem to have eased up a bit.
And let's remember, frontline workers include not only first responders, and doctors, nurses and other medical staff, but also bus drivers, grocery store clerks, fast-food workers, and anyone who puts themselves at risk to provide services that make our lives healthier and better during this challenging time.
Frontline workers put in long hours, give up family time, and lose hours of sleep serving those in need of their services.
Making face masks for frontline workers has become a popular way to give back. And if like me, you don't sew! there are other ways to show appreciation -- including a simple "thank you for all you are doing" when we have that opportunity.
Let's continue to appreciate their sacrifices and pray for their safety and for things to get back to normal as much as possible.
By Carol Meyer
Voting in this year's town election season is ongoing.
That's because due to COVID-19, Hingham voters have the opportunity to submit absentee or early voting ballots ahead of -- and up to -- the actual Saturday, June 27, date -- postponed from May 2.
In-person voting will take place on the day of the town election for those voters -- wearing face masks and keeping a social distance from others who are casting ballots -- who don't wish to submit either of the above ballots.
The election features one race -- for school committee. William Ramsey is the sole candidate for the selectman seat currently occupied by Karen Johnson, who is not seeking reelection. Initially there was a race, but Kirk Shilts decided this week to withdraw his candidacy.
There's a three-way race for two school committee seats among incumbent Michelle Ayer, Stephanie Gertz, and Jennifer Benham. Edward Schreier is not running for another term.
Rita Da Silva is running unopposed for Ramsey's planning board seat, which expires this year. Several incumbents are running unopposed.
Town Clerk Eileen McCracken is predicting a voter turnout (including early voting and absentee ballot submissions) of between 15 to 20 percent, which is typical of most town elections. The "turnout" could be higher because of the high number of absentee ballots that have been requested, she said.
Go to https://hinghamanchor.com/absentee-and-early-voting-ballots-available-by-mail/#more-12214 for election information.
For those who choose to vote in-person, here's where to go:
The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Be sure to exercise your right to vote!
By Carol Meyer
This year's Town Meeting -- set for Saturday, June 20, at the Hingham High School field -- will have a different look and feel, but presentation and consideration of the warrant articles will remain the same.
New this year due to COVID-19: cooling, water, and hand sanitizing stations; tents where attendees will be able to seek temporary respite from the heat; seats spaced 10 feet apart; and shaded areas close by. Face masks are required.
The meeting starts at 2 p.m.; registration begins at 12:30 p.m.
Volunteers and staff will be present to help voters find the spot that best meets their needs and to help those in wheelchairs to the handicapped accessible bathrooms, which will be sanitized regularly. Microphones will be sanitized after each use.
There are specific health guidelines spelling out when a citizen should not attend Town Meeting.
A Town Meeting outdoor framework with all the details is posted on the town website -- hingham-ma.gov.
Mark your calendar for Saturday, June 20. The rain date is June 21. Be sure to bring your copy of the Town Meeting warrant, sunscreen, a hat, a face mask, water, and umbrellas for shade. See you there!
By Carol Britton Meyer
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is proposing to transform an existing 149,000-square-foot warehouse on a 17-acre site in the South Hingham Industrial Park into a package delivery station.
The planning board is reviewing the proposal for what would be a 24-hour operation that would generate an estimated 1,844 vehicle trips a day -- including on-site employees, delivery services providers, visitors, and others. The purpose of this facility is to make local deliveries within a 60-minute radius.
The board is taking a close look at a number of considerations -- including traffic, parking, and pedestrian and vehicular safety and access. On-site parking would accommodate 458 vehicles.
The hearing was continued until June 15, when more information will be provided.
What do you think about this proposal?
By Carol Meyer
Birds are singing, trees are leafing out, flowers are blooming, and I even saw a bumblebee recently -- a rare sight these days.
Looking back, what really caught my attention this winter was that even on some cold days, there were bird songs in the air. Despite the lower temperatures and the fact that spring at that time was weeks away, they kept on singing. Not often, maybe, but enough to remind us that warmer weather was coming and to help chase away the wintertime blues.
Then came COVID-19, which has caused many changes in our lives. We can't go out much, and we're wearing face masks. Stores close earlier, and some items are still in short supply.
That said, as I write this, the azalea bush my children gave me for Mother's Day many years ago is now HUGE and blooming with radiant pink flowers, the grass -- in our case, crabgrass!-- is starting to turn green, and it's almost time to put the screen in our front door.
We've had some tough weather this spring, but also some beautiful sunny days that lift the spirits despite what's going on around us.
For all these things I am truly grateful! Happy Spring!
By Carol Meyer
The Hingham Farmers Market -- the third oldest farmers' market in the state -- is back for another season, with a new format and temporary location.
Prior to the much-anticipated May 23 opening day, HFM fans with have an opportunity to learn all about the new “pre-order/pickup, drive-through” system that will be in place for the time being. All orders will be pre-paid to simplify the process.
Farmers' markets are considered to be essential businesses, with social distancing and other guidelines in place that were set forth earlier by Governor Charlie Baker.
While at first there will be no pedestrian traffic or on-site sales, eventually HFM organizers hope to be able to move back to the bathing beach parking lot -- where the market is normally located -- under the usual walk-through model.
The new temporary location until COVID-19 restrictions ease at the bathing beach is the Station Street parking lot, where the market first began its operation in 1977. The hours are 9 a.m. to noon.
Check out the ordering instructions and details about which vendors are participating on the Hingham Farmers Market website, www.hinghamfarmersmarket.org.
"This is a great sign of spring!" said Selectmen Chair Karen Johnson recently when HFM President Mark Cullings presented the board with the new plan. "The farmers market is so important to folks in Hingham and beyond."
The way the new system will work is that during regular HFM hours, customers who have placed orders from the eight current produce and protein (seafood, beef, poultry, eggs, and pork) vendors earlier in the week will be directed to drive through the market to their vendors’ stations. Orders will be placed in their vehicles by the vendors.
Signage will direct market patrons in and out of the lot, and maps will be provided to help them locate individual vendors. Customers picking up orders will be asked to display a sign with their name for easy identification by vendors from whom they have ordered.
There's a learning curve to the new system, so be sure to become familiar with it to ensure the best experience possible!
By: Carol Britton Meyer
HinghamLink is a volunteer service connecting people who want to help with people who need help during the COVID-19 crisis.
This service is available to seniors, as well as other residents, who would like to hear a friendly voice on the other end of the phone line when they’re feeling isolated, can't get out to pick up groceries, or who just need assistance in getting through the day. A trash removal service is provided for Hingham seniors.
Volunteers wanting to make calls or to lend a helping hand, as well as those looking for assistance or an encouraging phone call, can sign up on the HinghamLink website. It's quick and easy to do!
The website is also home to the Face Mask Task Force and the colllaborative Hingham Food Project, which was created to ensure that no Hingham resident who is struggling during this challenging time goes hungry.
All services are free, and more volunteers are welcome. Those requesting a call or services will be matched with a volunteer.
For more information, to sign up as a volunteer, or to receive a phone call or to request assistance, visit hinghamlink.com.
By Carol Britton Meyer
Now that it's spring, with summer fast approaching, one's thoughts turn naturally to the Hingham Bathing Beach in anticipation of swimming, sunbathing, and picnics while enjoying beautiful views of the harbor.
But because of COVID-19, including concerns about large gatherings and social distancing guidelines set forth by the state, the Bathing Beach Trustees are uncertain as to how the season will unfold.
Beach plans are in the formative stages, "largely dependent on the overlying state regulations and getting the appropriate approvals at the town level," Trustee Alan Perrault said recently.
While working cooperatively with various town boards and Hingham Farmers Market organizers in planning for the upcoming season, the trustees were awaiting word from Gov. Charlie Baker about whether he would extend the state's stay-at-home advisory beyond the current May 4 date. That happened recently, when it was extended to May 18.
"In a perfect world we'd open sometime in July," according to Perrault -- but that's not a given due to the COVID-19 crisis.
In the meantime, let's hope things settle down enough so that beach lovers will be able to spend at least part of the summer at the bathing beach.
By Carol Britton Meyer
The transition of the water system serving Hingham, Hull, and part of Cohasset from Aquarion Water Company to Town of Hingham ownership could happen as soon as July 1.
At that time there will be a new name -- Weir River Water System, earlier chosen by the selectmen from among many suggestions submitted by customers.
Once the town starts operating the system, the water rates will remain the same as they are now for the first year of operation, according to town officials. The system will run as a self-supporting "enterprise” account.
About the same amount of revenue will be collected under town ownership, but the costs will be lower because the shareholder profit requirement no longer exists, according to Selectman Mary Power.
Town Meeting will consider water system-associated warrant articles. For more details see the Town Meeting warrant, which will be mailed to every Hingham household and is also posted on the Town of Hingham website.
Town meeting has been postponed until June 22, although that could change.