Harrison's Meeting Rescheduled and Venue Concerns Amid Health CrisisFeb 05, 2024
The Mayor & Council has postponed its meeting, initially scheduled for Tuesday, February 6, 2024. The meeting is now scheduled for the following Tuesday, February 13, 2024.
Scheduled to begin with a Public Caucus Session at 6:15 p.m. followed by the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m., the meeting will convene in the cramped confines of the Third Floor Conference Room at the Harrison Town Hall, located at 318 Harrison Avenue. This choice of venue, moving away from the traditional and much larger Second Floor Mayor & Council Chambers, is bewildering and appears to be a step backward in the era of Covid and flu concerns. Opting for a smaller space, when the need for social distancing is still prevalent, suggests a disregard for public health guidelines and the well-being of attendees.
Moreover, Harrison's approach to civic engagement is notably archaic. Unlike other towns that have adapted to the digital age by recording meetings or providing virtual participation options, Harrison's leadership clings to outdated practices. Public participation is constrained to a mere five minutes per person, with no accommodations for those unable to attend in person due to family and/or work commitments, health concerns, or accessibility issues. This restrictive policy limits the scope of community engagement and silences potential voices that could contribute valuable perspectives.
The agenda for the rescheduled meeting is not available on the Town’s website. The Agenda is likely not going to be available until next week. Even though the Notice of the Meeting states that the Agenda is available now, the Agenda is not posted on the Town of Harrison’s official website.
The insistence on holding in-person meetings without offering digital access not only alienates a segment of the population but also flies in the face of modern governance practices. It's a stark reminder of the Mayor & Council's resistance to change and adaptation, even when such shifts could enhance public participation in the Town’s governance.
The upcoming meeting is more than a venue for addressing town business; it is a litmus test for the town's commitment to its citizens' health, safety, and right to participate in governance. Harrison's residents deserve better. They deserve a leadership that prioritizes their welfare, embraces technology for greater inclusivity, and fosters an environment where public discourse can thrive without unnecessary barriers.
An additional week serves as a critical moment for reflection on how Harrison can improve its practices to not only meet the current health challenges but also to modernize its approach to civic engagement. The decision to proceed without considering these factors is not just disappointing; it's a disservice to the community the Mayor & Council of Harrison aims to serve.