For the past two months we have been holding abbreviated Board meetings and no Planning Commission meetings. Now that the Safer at Home order has been lifted statewide, we will once again be conducting full meetings but with certain safeguards in place in order to practice social distancing. For the Board meetings, there will be the usual three Board members as well as Debbie Collins, Curt Fredrich, Sheriff Deputy Shaw and Bob Collins. In addition, we will allow up to 12 residents to attend on a first-come basis with priority given to individuals or couples with issues pending before the Board. Chairs are currently spaced around the meeting room at six-foot intervals, however couples may sit together and will be counted as one individual.
Planning Commission meetings will be similarly conducted with a quorum of Commission members and two Board members in attendance. Additionally, up to 12 residents will be allowed to attend with priority given to individuals or couples with an issue before the Commission. If a quorum is not reached (at least 4 of the 7 Commission members) no meeting will be held and any pending issues will be deferred to a later date.
On a different note, our Town Hall is now 135 years old and is definitely showing its age. Nine years ago we performed a number of repairs and modifications that not only made the building conform to the Americans With Disabilities Act, but helped prolong its useful life. It now needs more repairs, if even possible, and as recent meetings have shown, is inadequate to hold all the potential meeting attendees. It is time to think about replacing it with a new building better suited to today’s requirements. If done correctly, it can be accomplished without raising taxes.
Later this year, when people are more comfortable moving around and mingling, the Town Board would like to appoint an investigative body of residents to look into the feasibility and potential costs of a new town hall to be built some time in the next few years. This is something the Chairman would normally be expected to do, but my term ends next April and I don’t want to start a project I won’t be around to bring to fruition. It would not be fair to my successor. With Board elections next April, we don’t know who will still be in office; therefore, in order to maintain continuity with this project, it is important it be conducted by a separate body.
I ask that interested residents, for now, consider being a member of this body and be ready, when asked, to contact the Town Hall and include any personal information that may aid the Board in selecting applicants. To maintain objectivity, no Board members or Planning Commission members will be part of this body. The Board will select residents at a future meeting and appoint a task force of perhaps 4 to 6 residents to look into a new town hall.
Now that the state is opening up, it is still a good idea to maintain social distancing and be mindful of other people’s personal space. Stay safe, stay healthy and enjoy the spring and summer.