WESTFIELD – As the City Council headed into another remote meeting on May 21, President Brent B. Bean, II discussed how City Hall was faring since closing its doors to the public in mid-March, and the possibility of its reopening.
“Public safety is the first priority. If we can open City Hall incrementally, that’s something we should consider,” Bean said, adding, “I think the city department heads and workers have done a pretty good job of moving forward with services.”
Bean said he thinks the City Council has also been doing its job during the closure. “I think it’s been really good, efficient. We’ve kept the city moving forward. The councilors have been great with communicating with residents,” he said.
All City Council meetings have continued to be audio broadcast live on Westfield Community Channel 15, and at the May 7 meeting, a public hearing was successfully held by teleconference for a gas storage license for the Big Y Service Station.
Bean admitted there has been a learning curve with the technology. Looking ahead, he said he’d like to see the Commonwealth continue to modify regulations to allow for remote meetings in general.
“Any way to get the government to move quicker is something we should strive for. Any way to be more fluid and reactive, we should do it,” he said, adding that he’d like to see the rules that the pandemic has allowed the city to implement to continue.
Bean did say the piece on public participation is important. “We need to work out those final details,” he admitted.
As for returning council meetings to the Chambers, Bean said he would not have a problem with it. “I want to make sure the members are comfortable. I would never put someone in the position to be uncomfortable,” he said, adding, “The rules are still in place to do remote meetings.”