When questions began swirling around Rockport's Annual Town Meeting date some six weeks ago, there were all sorts of reasons for why the meeting date seemingly just couldn't be changed.
After all, Town Meeting had been held the first Saturday of April for years, right? Anyone who was really interested in his or her town's government would have already committed to that date, and had it circled on the calendar, right? So who cared if the initial April 7 date fell smack in the middle of Easter weekend for the second year in a row, and this time right in the middle of Passover, right?
Wrong. Thankfully, Selectmen Frances Fleming and Paul Murphy cared. Recognizing that Town Meeting isn't simply a get-together for the scores of town residents who serve on the town's boards, commissions and committees and otherwise act as insiders, they pushed for steering the meeting away from the holiday celebrations. And they settled on Monday night.
Would it work? Could voters attend to tackle some Special Town Meeting issues and a 36-article main warrant without having to extend the meeting into Tuesday? The answer was an emphatic "yes."
The meeting drew a very respectable turnout of just under 300 voters — who worked their way through the full warrant by 10:45 p.m., trimming two hours or more off some of the traditional Saturday confabs.
By all counts, Monday night's Annual Town Meeting proved the efficient, business-like success it should be. In that vein, it should set the stage for a new tradition.
Rockport should commit now to avoiding the inevitable conflicts of the future. That means setting next year's Annual Town Meeting for the first or second Monday night in April as well.