Municipal meetings remain remote, for now, in Southwick

SOUTHWICK – The Southwick Select Board adopted what it called the “gold standard” for reopening town hall and municipal meetings.

A draft plan created by Health Director Tammy Spencer was accepted Aug. 4 during the Board’s remote meeting. The plan includes continuing municipal board and committee meetings remotely for the time being.

The Southwick Select Board remote meeting April 14, 2020. Municipal meetings will remain remote, for now, in Southwick. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THEWESTFIELD NEWS)

The vote came after a town committee met in-person, which goes against current guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety as well as open meeting rules.

Select Board chairman Douglas Moglin acknowledged that “there are people who want to meet in-person” but they need to have the health director sign-off before bringing meetings back to Southwick Town Hall. He also wants a remote option in place for members of committees not comfortable meeting in person and for public participation.

Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart said the draft offered by Spencer is “the safest” plan they have at this time and Spencer is not currently recommending a return to meeting in-person. Stinehart added that Spencer “did a great job” compiling the plan.

Selectman Russell Fox said they needed to take some time digesting the protocols.

“We need to give this some thought and to reach out to other boards,” he said, adding that they must remain transparent.

Selectman Joseph Deedy agreed and said he would like to return to meeting inperson but foresees it being a “headache” without solid plans in place.

Stinehart said efforts to create a safer environment in Town Hall continue, including ordering a “fogger” to help disinfect entire rooms efficiently. Stinehart noted that such purchases are eligible for COVID-19 funding.

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