Residents call on Hempstead officials to let them back into Town Board meetings
Members of the public are not currently allowed into Hempstead Town Board meetings because of coronavirus concerns – prompting a backlash from residents.
They say their voices are not being heard and that the time has come to allow them back in.
Some residents told News 12 that their written comments at the most recent board meeting on July 1 were never read aloud.
Town Supervisor Don Clavin says those comments were reviewed by each board member.
“We had a number of them, We all agreed we were going to make copies of them. The town clerk distributed them to the board members and they were reviewed,” he says.
He says there will be a plan in place to let the public attend the next meeting on Aug. 4.
“We have to determine exactly how many people are going to be allowed inside,” says Clavin. “There's an idea that if a lot of people come, we'd actually have some seats out here with a monitor and a mic. We're doing the best we can.”
Floral Park and Freeport villages have already begun to allow residents back for their town board meetings.
Public policy expert Paul Sabatino says most municipalities will keep turning to technology, at least for now.
“To a large degree, I think it's going to continue this virtual participation, whether it's by Zoom or having people send in written comments or emails,” he says.
Still, resident Pearl Jacobs says the time is now to let Hempstead’s residents inside for the meetings.
“We pay our taxes, we want our voices heard,” she says. “Although they say that they encourage participation from communities and community leaders, they do not.”
So far, the supervisor has not given News 12 many more details about the plan for the next meeting. He says that will be announced in the coming weeks.