By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester City Council is moving ahead with plans for a June 23 Town hall meeting, but it will be a far cry from the previous one held before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic took hold.
Ironing out the logistics of not only socially distancing the council, administration and directors, there is also the process by which the public offers its comments, concerns and interactions.
Currently, council meetings are conducted in a hybrid fashion with some individuals in the municipal building and others participating remotely.
“I think you all know since this whole thing started we have explored a lot of technological solutions and this one is by far the best one we have come up with,” said Finance Director Amanda Jackson. “I don’t think we have anything else to offer so if you have suggestions, we would love to hear them.”
Councilman Mike Coolman felt Town Hall meetings have been effective and the public is appreciative of the one attended by department directors.
When there were questions asked of council with which they did not feel competent enough to respond, did not recall the information or were not up to date with the latest information, Coolman said directors stepped up and filled in the information gap.
“Personally speaking, I would want them there,” said Coolman. “Going back, the reason we are doing this is because of the letters that were sent in and the questions that were sent in. (There) were questions…about the financial stability and they want a breakdown of the expense report. They want to know what the budgets are. They want to know how we are affected by tax collections, so they want to know the process or progress of businesses closing in Canal. Are projects continuing?”
Councilwoman Jill Amos said they would need to establish a procedure for signing in and speaking according to the sign-up list and a way to effectively mute and unmute city and public speakers.
“We would go down the list and say, Mr. Coolman you are up, unmute Mr. Coolman and ask your question and we can have that conversation and then we can mute afterwards to start the next person,” said Amos. “That way, we can effectively control that chaos and volume control. I think there is a way and we’ll figure it out.”
Other Canal Winchester news
•City Development Director Lucas Haire said the city’s three largest private sector employers—all connected to the automotive supply chain—are all operational in some capacity.
“There are a lot of people in Canal Winchester getting back work which is good news,” said Haire. “Residential construction still remains strong. We have not seen any slowdown here and we are still seeing an uptick of where we were last year. I know some of the restaurants here in town had a good weekend with the nice weather and got folks out on the patios and figured out how they are going to operate safely in the environment we are in now, good to see those things happening.”
•Councilman Bob Clark reported on a preliminary kick-off meeting on May 11 for the McDorman Municipal Complex. He said the community center would be a high priority within the building.
“I heard the possibility of adding a new reading room to that and the possibility of moving the conference room that is connected to the community center and maybe making that more towards the middle and freeing up additional space from that point, but nothing is set in stone,” said Clark.
Councilman Chuck Milliken assumed the council will have a much larger room where they hold executive sessions and added he would like to see the potential for the room to be rented out at some point.
“I don’t know where that room will be set in the building, but I think it is a good idea for it to not be wasted space when it is not being used,” said Milliken.
Public Service Director Matt Peoples said the council chamber will be flexible shared space without fixed chairs, but the council desk will be fixed. Peoples also talked about the size of the council chamber and being able to divide it that so there would be a large room that could be divided into two smaller rooms as well.
Another consideration pointed out by Councilman Pat Lynch was keeping up with the technology of web cams and filming/broadcasting the meetings.
“Then you will have a lot more people watching from home,” said Lynch. “There are some hot topics coming up where people want to attend. I think we are getting to the point where we won’t have as many people at the meetings like we may have before because you can watch from home, so that might be something that comes out as far as size of those facilities.”