ATHOL — While there are budgets to pass, zoning regulations to be changed and land to be preserved, the thorniest issue on this year’s annual town meeting warrant may be efforts to stop the town from putting fluoride in its drinking water.
The town meeting will be held tomorrow beginning at 6:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the ground floor of Town Hall. There will be a pre-town-meeting supper in Liberty Hall in the basement of the building beginning at 5 p.m. to raise money for the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust’s community gardens initiative.
The article seeking to eliminate fluoride from the town’s water system is No. 22 on a 34-article warrant. It was submitted through initiative by resident Carolyn Salls, who says fluoride is hazardous to the health of the public, especially children.
Board of Health member Joan Hamlett also opposes fluoridating water, saying the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend it for children younger than 2.
The town has had its water fluoridated since the early 1950s. Dr. Wayne Miller, a medical doctor and member of the Board of Selectmen, supports continuing to supplement the water with fluoride. Fluoridating public water systems is supported by the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also on the warrant are two articles giving the selectmen permission to seek special state legislation to allow the state Division of Fisheries & Wildlife to acquire land in the Thousand Acre Swamp area to preserve as open space. Voters also will be asked to rescind and revote two articles, one of which would allow an easement placed by the state on Newton Reservoir for conservation purposes. The other would sell land in the Thousand Acre Swamp to the state for conservation.
The vote is supported by selectmen, but not recommended by the Finance Committee…