Bow voters give the town 30 days to start video recording meetings

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor Staff

Published: 03-16-2023 4:19 PM

The town of Bow has one month to figure out how to broadcast and record all Selectmen and Planning Board meetings following a vote by residents at the town meeting.

While the budget and other spending items passed easily without any discussions Wednesday evening at the Bow High School auditorium, residents lined up to discuss the petitioned warrant articles to record town meetings and to establish a committee for the town’s cell coverage.

When Moderator Peter Imse introduced the article calling for the live streaming and recording meetings and public hearings, voters who had remained silent for the majority of the evening lined up at both ends of the auditorium for a chance to speak at the microphone. Opponents raised concerns about the personnel, equipment, and costs associated with implementation, while supporters argued that the change would increase transparency and accountability in town government.

Former selectman Harry Judd said providing information to the town is critical for its residents to be well-informed and the request for recorded meetings has been a consistent demand for several years.

“We want to know what’s going on,” said Judd. “It’s not possible to always attend the meetings. So this is a way to make information available.”

An amendment was proposed by Selectman Matthew Poulin to set up a committee to study the costs of recording meetings before implementing the change. However, it was voted down when it was pointed out that meetings were already being live-streamed and that private citizens were recording them at no cost by simply pressing a button.

Resident Kevin McCahan said town officials had ample time to conduct research into the associated costs since the matter had been previously raised on several occasions.

“So kicking the can down the road with this motion, I don’t have any confidence that there will be action at this point,” said McCahan.

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Eventually both articles pertaining to live streaming and recording public meetings passed with an amendment that gives the town one month to implement the recording system, with the recordings being retained for five years.

Another petitioned article that caused a stir among Bow residents was to establish a committee tasked with developing a cell tower coordination plane to achieve at least 95% cellular coverage. However, the article did not pass.

Dee Treybig, the article’s petitioner, stated that residents of Bow do not want multiple cell towers, however, the one tower approved on Branch Londonderry Turnpike will not be enough to cover all of the town’s dead spots. She asked residents to vote for a committee to plan and locate potential sites to attract cell tower builders in order to improve cell reception.

Meanwhile, the town approved the operating budget of $12 million, as well as several proposals to set aside money to pave roads, rebuild the Page Road Bridge and other projects.

In addition, voters approved the purchase of a new police cruiser for $59,000 and the purchase of CPR equipment and defibrillators for $57,400 for the fire department. The money will be taken out of capital reserve funds.

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