Southampton Town Board Tells Committees And Advisory Boards To Use Discretion When Holding Meetings, In The Midst Of COVID-19 Outbreak - 27 East

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Southampton Town Board Tells Committees And Advisory Boards To Use Discretion When Holding Meetings, In The Midst Of COVID-19 Outbreak

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Southampton Town Board members met with Ryan Murphy, the town emergency management administrator, on Thursday to discuss covid-19 precautionary measures. GREG WEHNER

Southampton Town Board members met with Ryan Murphy, the town emergency management administrator, on Thursday to discuss covid-19 precautionary measures. GREG WEHNER

authorGreg Wehner on Mar 12, 2020

Southampton Town Board members are urging the town’s various advisory committees and other boards to limit public meetings in the face of the growing COVID-19 epidemic.

Unless an item of discussion is time sensitive, the board agreed, meetings should be postponed.

At a Town Board work session on Thursday, March 12, Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman initially said he wanted advisory boards and citizens advisory committees to postpone all meetings for 30 days, a precautionary measure to protect their members from becoming infected by COVID-19.

Each of the board members was asked how they wanted to address the growing situation.

Board member Tommy John Schiavoni said he liked the idea of advisory boards and CACs not meeting for a month, while Councilman John Bouvier said he would rather let the individual committee chairs be part of the conversation, and allow them to have discretion on whether to meet or not.

Town Board member Rick Martel said it would be a good idea to start looking at the buildings the town operates and then suspend meetings at those buildings. Town Board member Julie Lofstad said the committees and boards should be reached out to as soon as possible.

Ultimately, a combination of all of the ideas was decided on.

On Thursday, Ryan Murphy, the town code and emergency management administrator, was asked to draft a memo to each of the advisory board and CAC chairpersons saying the town was leaving it up to them to determine whether to hold meetings if they were discussing time-sensitive matters, such as the Sustainability Committee looking at proposed legislation to ban leaf blowers in the town.

Things that need to be considered, according to Mr. Schneiderman, are whether the members of the committees or boards are part of the high-risk population that could contract COVID-19, whether there will be enough space between each member so that everyone is not breathing on each other, and whether there will be fewer than 20 people at a meeting.

Mr. Murphy told Town Board members that 20 members or fewer should be okay.

In addition to regulations on advisory boards and CACs, Mr. Schneiderman was concerned about town facilities being used for any type of meeting, but he said he did not want to interfere with meetings held by Alcoholics Anonymous, the LGBTQ community or any other group where canceling the meeting would interfere with their mental health.

Mr. Murphy suggested that all groups, whether town-appointed or not related to the town, that use a town facility assess the situation and use their best judgment.

“Until we understand this issue more, I’d rather err on the side of caution,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

The Village of Southampton is also taking precautions to ensure everyone is safe during the outbreak.

In an email on Thursday, Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren encouraged village residents to sign up for the village’s CodeRED mobile alert program.

According to the village website, CodeRed is a web-based communication system that allows public safety personnel to keep residents informed of emergency situations by way of telephone, text messages, email and social media.

In order to sign up, residents can go to www.southamptonvillage.org, and then click on the “CodeRed” banner at the bottom of the page.

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