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Letter to the Editor: Response to Virtual Council Meetings

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Posted on: April 11, 2024

In response to the March [Life & Times] editorial “It’s time to bring back in-person council meetings,” I’d like to provide some additional clarity surrounding our current council meeting practices.

First and foremost, I’d like to dispel any belief that the city council is meeting virtually to reduce public engagement. Our councilmembers are available to actively engage community members beyond formal meetings. You can find us in person at ward meetings, community gatherings to discuss specific projects or initiatives, and upcoming programs and events. We are committed to hearing your feedback and collaborating on improvements. You can find councilmember email addresses and phone numbers at hyattsville.org/council or in the monthly Hyattsville Reporter newsletter. Please reach out to discuss your ideas and concerns for our community.

  We know there is a desire from some community members to resume regular in-person council meetings. We have also heard from many constituents that continuing to offer virtual access is critical to their ability to participate. Our goal is to hold council meetings that allow hybrid participation, both in-person and virtual attendance, to ensure residents have the greatest opportunity to engage in the forum of their choosing. 

The city is diligently working towards installing the proper technology to make true hybrid participation possible. Our progress has been slower than neighboring communities because we’ve allocated American Rescue Plan Act funding for a significant renovation of the council chambers. This remodel is long overdue and will provide the community with a versatile modernized space that can host hybrid meetings for the council and city committees, as well as other community gatherings. 

Resuming in-person council meetings is, unfortunately, not as straightforward as opening a Zoom meeting in the room where the council is present. The technology to broadcast to cable television, livestream, and archive video recordings of council meetings currently only exists in the council chambers. Because the council chambers have been dismantled for renovation, any council meeting which takes place in-person comes at the cost of no virtual or recorded access, which many of our residents rely upon to watch council meetings. 

We do understand the concerns of our community members who are ready to move on from a fully virtual world, but we believe the end product will be worth the wait. The work we are undertaking will result in a council chambers that will benefit our community and be a source of pride for the city and its residents.

Sincerely,

Mayor Robert Croslin

City of Hyattsville

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