Town Board meetings will no longer feature Zoom option

Riverhead Town Board meetings will no longer be accessible via Zoom, according to Supervisor Yvette Aguiar.

The final meeting to have a Zoom component was the July 7 meeting. 

Under state law, meetings could not be conducted with online applications like Zoom or by telephone, but those restrictions were lifted in the wake to COVID-19 in order to prevent large groups of people congregating.

The restrictions applied to boards with decision-making authority, such as the Town Board or Planning Board, according to deputy town attorney Anne Marie Prudenti. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has since removed the prohibition on meeting in person. 

Ms. Aguiar said that advisory boards, such as the town’s downtown advisory committee or its alternative transportation committee, can continue to meet by Zoom, but they will need to set up the Zoom programs themselves, or just meet in person. 

The town had been using Henry Kreymborg, its network administrator, to set up and run virtual meetings, which has taken him away from his main job, which is securing the town’s computer infrastructure.

“We’re going to end Zoom for our meetings because we want people here,” Ms. Aguiar said. “There’s no reason to have Zoom anymore.”

“It was a necessity during the pandemic but it certainly isn’t a necessity now, when we have open seating for everybody,” said Councilman Frank Beyrodt.

Councilman Ken Rothwell agreed, saying “it’s time to turn back to the way things were before [COVID].”

Councilwoman Catherine Kent said many people found Zoom to be convenient, particularly for some of the advisory committees she’s involved in.

“People have busy schedules and more people were able to attend with Zoom,” she said.

Ms. Prudenti said the state law allows board members to vote remotely, but they have to advertise their location in case members of the public want to go there.

Town Board meetings can still be viewed live via Channel 22, which is accessible to stream on the town website. The next Town Board meeting is 2 p.m. Tuesday.