BETHLEHEM — The town will continue holding board meetings remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Town Supervisor David VanLuven said the meetings will be held via Zoom, a live video conferencing service, that allows board members and essential staff to hold virtual meetings in real-time. After the meeting ends, a recorded video of it will be made available for free on bethlehemtownny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx.
This is possible because Gov. Cuomo issued an executive order on March 12 that town governments are among public bodies that can “meet and take such actions authorized by the law without permitting in public in-person access to meetings and authorizing such meetings to be held remotely by conference call or similar service, provided that the public has the ability to view or listen to such proceeding and that such meetings are recorded and later transcribed.” For more information on Cuomo’s executive order, visit www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2021-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency.
VanLuven said, “We feel it’s better to keep businesses of town meetings moving forward and have video conferencing for free. Otherwise, we would have to shut our town meetings down and that would be a real disservice to everyone.” He added that the first virtual public meeting was the Town Board meeting on Wednesday, March 25 and it “went well. It’s creative for us to use technology to get Town Board business matters done.”
Although he said that the virtual meetings do not allow the public to participate in real-time, he stressed that residents can continue to call or email him, town staff or board members if they have any comments or concerns. “I can’t stress enough that people can still communicate with us by phone or email all the time and even in normal times, they don’t have to wait until a town board meeting to share their comments or concerns,” he said.
In a follow-up email, VanLuven wrote, “This is actually a point I’ve been trying to drive home for two years: people shouldn’t wait until our twice-monthly Town Board meetings if they want to share ideas or concerns, or if they want to get answers to questions.”
For a list of town government departments and staff contacts, visit www.townofbethlehem.org/27/Town-Government.