Colrain Selectboard considers implementing hybrid meetings, online surveys

By ERIN-LEIGH HOFFMAN

Staff Writer

Published: 07-10-2024 2:49 PM

COLRAIN — The Selectboard began considering implementation of a hybrid meeting structure on Tuesday, while also floating ideas for online community surveys that would be posted on the Colrain town website.

New Town Administrator Diana Parsons said both residents and Selectboard members have expressed an interest in having a remote option for meetings through Zoom. Although no plans are concrete at this point, “we’re just going to investigate that cost and what it would take to do that,” Parsons said.

Having a hybrid meeting structure gained popularity across the state as a way to continue government business during the pandemic. Parsons noted that the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money that Colrain received from the federal government went toward expanding broadband access in town, rather than to set up the Zoom meeting option, with the idea that the broadband access would allow for a hybrid meeting structure to be possible.

“We wouldn’t even be able to do this if we hadn’t done that,” Parsons said.

The town has money available in the Municipal Light Plant Enterprise Fund that Parsons said could go toward setting up the hybrid option.

“It’d be great to now at least be able to carve out a little bit of money to do this hybrid plan,” she said.

Equipment for livestreaming the meetings on Zoom would be purchased and set up in the Colrain Highway Garage at 9 Jacksonville Road. The recorded footage would then be posted on the town website or on a YouTube channel for later viewing.

Parsons explained that creating a hybrid option for the town would allow for further transparency and communication to members of the community who can’t always attend in-person meetings. She noted that, based on her experience as finance director, chief procurement officer and interim chief of staff for the city of Greenfield, people appreciate the hybrid option.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Yankee Candle consolidation prompts loss of 100 jobs
Dining al fresco?: Some of the best places to enjoy a meal outside in Franklin County
Greenfield woman appointed to Probate and Family Court judgeship
Real Estate Transactions: July 12, 2024
Town officials want ‘junk car’ removal sped up near river in Charlemont
‘Van-lifers’ from across country to unite in Greenfield for 51st annual National Truck-In

“People watch even though they don’t necessarily want to attend or participate, but they like to view meetings after the fact,” Parsons said. “We have a lot of projects going on, and people need to understand what the importance of those things are.”

An additional effort to increase transparency and communication involves posting community surveys to the town website for people to provide feedback, Parsons added. Community surveys could help inform municipal meeting discussions.

Parsons said residents can anticipate these upgrades within the year.

Erin-Leigh Hoffman can be reached at ehoffman@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.