Sept. 7, 2022 By Christian Murray
Queens Community Board 2 will continue to hold its meetings remotely when it restarts after the summer break on Thursday.
The board planned to resume in person meetings this month at Sunnyside Community Services, but many members and the public remain wary about the health risks pertaining to COVID-19. The board has not met in person since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020.
Community Board 2 Chair Morry Galonoy said the board investigated holding the meetings on a hybrid basis but decided against it due to the high costs of doing so and the strict state requirements set by the Open Meetings Law.
Hybrid meetings, according to the law, would require at least half the members of the board to turn up in person, and those members who aren’t able participate in person would have to be seen on screen for the public to see.
“We don’t really have the budget to handle AV (Audiovisual) equipment and the technology to host hybrid meetings,” Galonoy said.
Galonoy said that it became clear that the board either had to choose between doing the meetings 100 percent in person or remotely.
“I had heard people say, ‘We really want to be back in person,’ and I was looking forward to it also, but we took a survey of the board to find out what the members thought.”
Galonoy said that almost 60 percent of the board believed that holding the meetings remotely made the most sense at this time. He said 13 percent advocated for hybrid, if possible, with the remainder calling for in person.
“Some people are comfortable being in public and some people aren’t—and that is the challenge,” Galonoy said.
Galonoy said that he doesn’t believe that meetings will always be held remotely. He anticipates that there will be a way for them to be held in a hybrid manner when the cost is more manageable.
However, he believes that since the meetings have gone virtual, there has been an increase in engagement among the board members as well as the public.
“I would hate to see us lose that,” Galonoy said. “Whether it’s the public or the board members, it’s great.”
The board lists its meetings on its calendar page with the links to the Zoom meetings. Committee meetings are also held via Zoom and the public is permitted to listen in on them.
This Thursday the board is holding a hearing pertaining to a rezoning application at 58-02 Northern Blvd., where the applicant aims to build a 2-story Lincoln auto dealership.
The full board will also weigh in on the council redistricting proposal for District 26. A board task force has already announced its opposition to the new boundaries.