Gloucester’s municipal board, commission and committee members will resume meeting to serve the community both in and out of the pandemic. 

When COVID-19 shut down much of the city's municipal business as Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken's administration got a handle on the state of emergency, many boards, commission and committees (BCC) had to put their meetings on hold. As of last month, these groups are slowly resuming business remotely. 

“We have heard that many of you are anxious to resume meeting, and we, too, are anxious for that to happen,” interim Chief Administrative Officer Vanessa Krawczyk wrote in an Oct. 26 letter to the BCC members. “The City is utilizing the Zoom platform for remote participation of public meetings.”

Because the city has a limited number of Zoom administrators and accounts, the process of holding meetings in accordance with open meeting laws will take some additional time to adjust as the Zoom administrators coordinate schedules and navigate the legality of hosting meetings remotely.  

“It is a pretty big undertaking,” Community Development Director Jill Cahill said. But she has no doubt that the committees will rise to the occasion, noting that the Gloucester Cultural Council held two meetings successfully as it looked to secure grant funding for c ity schools, organizations, artists, and other community members. 

“They have gone fine,” Cultural Council member Elizabeth Neumeier said. “We need to be careful about communicating with the people at City Hall to make the agenda posted in a timely manner.”

Neumeier said when the Cultural Council's schedules its meetings, the selected date needs to be compatible with the city Zoom administrators' availability as the council must use the city Zoom platform. 

When the Cultural Council met in person, Neumeier said that a member of the public rarely sat in. 

Now, with the online platform, a few more — two as Neumeier specified — have joined to listen in on the council's meetings. 

“Hopefully more members of the public will show up in the foreseeable future to hear about the work we are doing,” she said. 

Krawczyk outlined in her letter a streamlined process will allow city boards, committees and commissions to confirm dates of meetings, new agenda requirements, and protocol for online Zoom meetings.  

Although BCC members will begin to see each other’s faces once again through Zoom, it is going to be a while before meetings will be held in person. 

Cahill explained said the meetings will be staying remote for as long as the city is in a state of emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We have discussed this at length,” she said, explaining that due to the restrictions on gathering sizes the city isn't able to host meetings in person. 

“We will continue to monitor COVID-19 and will share any relevant updates with our BCC chairs,” Krawczyk wrote.

Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

 

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