ROCKPORT — The town’s selectmen have decided to endorse all articles on the upcoming fall Town Meeting warrant — with one very notable exception.
Article L, which deals with whether fluoride should be in the town’s drinking water, has yet to garner the selectmen’s support or a call for voters’ rejection. The choice to delay a decision on the article — which would not force a decision on fluoride but would place the issue before voters in a November referendum — doesn’t mean the selectmen don’t support the article.
Sarah Wilkinson, who chairs the Board of Selectmen, said that the board wanted to wait until all members of the board could get together to render a decision. Selectwoman Eliza Lucas was absent during the board’s meeting Tuesday night when the articles were discussed.
“I think we will vote on it at our meeting on Sept. 2,” Wilkinson wrote in an email.
The 12 other articles on the warrant, including a couple listing multiple proposed Community Preservation Fund projects, were supported by selectmen. Town Meeting is planned for 7 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Rockport High School.
Selectman Paul Murphy said that, during Tuesday’s meeting, Drs. Sydney Wedmore and Russell Sandfield, members of the town’s Board of Health, gave a presentation on fluoride. The two recommended keeping fluoride in the water, Murphy said.
“I could be persuaded when I listen to the debate at Town Meeting,” Murphy said, “but as of right now, I have not seen anything to make me support getting rid of the fluoride.”
The article was submitted via petition by members and supporters of the Cape Ann Fluoride Action Network, which generated more than the 100 required signatures to place it on the Town Meeting warrant.
Karen Tysver, a network member, said she has multiple concerns about fluoride in the drinking water, including that fluoride is added without the public’s consent. She pointed to multiple studies that indicate that fluoridation does not reduce the amount of tooth decay, its primary purpose. Murphy, however, noted that the American Dental Association supports keeping the fluoride flowing, as well, but said he’s “going to keep an open mind” during Town Meeting.
The article calls for giving the selectmen the authority to seek a special order to put a question on an upcoming town election for voters to consider. The question would read, “Are you in favor of discontinuing the fluoride supplementation of the Rockport Water Supply?”.
If all other articles are approved, as the selectmen have recommended, a slew of CPA funding will aid multiple projects.
Part of Article F would allocate $113,500 of these funds to Rockport Baptist Church for renovation and preservation work. Another $220,000 would go to the Rockport Unitarian Universalist Church for work on the church’s steeple.
The Rockport Art Association would also gain just over $137,000 for work on its building downtown, as well as adding handicapped-accessibility.
“It seems like a pretty straightforward Town Meeting,” Murphy said, adding that he hopes many Rockport citizens attend.