Whately Select Board OKs outdoor gatherings on town-owned property

  • Whately Town Hall and other public buildings were closed due to concerns about the spread of the COVID-19, as seen in this March 30, 2020 photo. The town will now permit boards and committees to meet outside on town-owned properties. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

WHATELY — The Select Board has approved the use of outdoor space at town-owned properties for gatherings, including local board or committee meetings, provided that all public health guidelines are followed.

“This is with the understanding that if it’s a town board or committee, they do have to follow Open Meeting Laws,” said board chairman Frederick Orloski, adding that town groups not bound by open meeting laws, such as the Historical Society, are also welcome to use such spaces.

Town-owned spaces include outside Town Hall, town offices, the police station and the Center School.

The approval, which amends an order reopening town buildings to the public for limited hours, comes with the condition that all local and state guidelines with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic are followed during gatherings. Signs will be posted with reminders to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Select Board member Jonathan Edwards said he would advise groups to be extra cautious if opting for an outdoor meeting.

“There is incredible scrutiny by passersby on whether that group is adhering to guidelines set forth by our Board of Health and the governor’s office,” he said. “Sometimes, that scrutiny is not accurate and sometimes it is; but scrutiny is scrutiny, so I would really encourage people to be extra cautious.”

Orloski noted that if conditions change, the board can revisit the policy.