Canton town, village boards mull return to in-person meetings with public attendance
BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
CANTON — The Canton village and town boards are mulling over when they will return to in-person meetings which will be open to the public.
Members of both boards discussed options for a return at their joint meeting April 28, which, like all Canton board meetings since the start of the pandemic, was held on the Zoom cloud conferencing platform.“We (village’s and town’s joint communication and technology committee) have been working for some time on how we will come back into in-person meetings, but still accommodate the needs of people who are comfortable or able to come into the building,” said Village Trustee Carol Pynchon.
Pynchon said the municipalities have perfected using Zoom for meetings and that a shared OWL camera purchased by the village and town was tested recently for future meetings. “Which will allow us to view and hear multiple people in a room together,” said Pynchon.
The OWL device provides a speaker and panoramic view for Zoom broadcast of conferences and meetings.
“I think it will have to be a board decision when the board is comfortable, each board is comfortable, to start doing their own meetings. But I think we are getting close,” said Village Mayor Michael Dalton.
“I long for the day we meet again in person. It’s been a long year,” said Town Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley. “What we have to also consider is the cleaning of the room, because court is on Wednesdays so we have to make sure the room is in order. Setting up the room to appropriately accommodate everybody. We’re not sure what the executive order is as far as how many people can be in the room so that’s another factor we are looking at.”
“I agree with the mayor that we are really close, once we get those answers,” Ashley said.
Dalton said he thought it was important that the municipalities approach a reopening of regular in person meetings with a hybrid of in person and Zoom availability for the public due to limitations on occupancies and comfort levels of the public. “We may have to do that, take small steps,” Dalton said.
Village Trustee Beth Bullock Larabee said it was important to keep a hybrid model in place “post-COVID.”
Village Trustee Anna Sorensen said the committee plans to purchase a projector and a screen to work with the OWL camera for Zoom participants to be interactive and viewable for those attending in-person at future meetings.
Village Trustee Klaus Proemm said he was ready for in person meetings, but advised that the boards should make sure attendees have been vaccinated to allow in-person attendance.
Ashley suggested the boards anticipate starting in-person meetings in June provided the cleaning and vaccination factors are addressed.
“I think we need to also be conscious of the (governor’s) executive order. The executive order ultimately is going to say when we’re required to be back. Right now I think its our local decision to come back or not, but the executive order could come back and say we need to meeting in person in May,” said Town Councilman Bob Washo.