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Greenport Village discusses upgrade of video system following failures at recent meetings

With space restriction imposed by COVID-19, the number of people that can attend Greenport Village Board meetings is limited, although the meetings are also streamed live online on the village web site.

But the videos don’t always work.

“People are asking about it,” said Trustee Mary Bess Phillips. “There are those who are frustrated with the video because the streaming fails once in a while.”

At its work session Thursday, the board informally agreed to have village administrator Paul Pallas get some price estimates for setting up an upgraded video system.

Mr. Pallas said he and Village Clerk Sylvia Pirillo went to a Shelter Island Town Board to see how their meetings are filmed.

He said Shelter Island does both streaming and zoom style meetings at the same time.

“Technically, we can do it, but logistically, it’s quite an undertaking,” Mr. Pallis said. But he later added, “The way Shelter Island does it is the way to do it.”

The village would need a big screen television, a laptop to control the zoom application with, speakers, a video camera and a number of wires, he said. Mr. Pallis estimated it would cost about $34,000 just to implement the system, in addition to having a village employee work the laptop on overtime.

And since Village Board meetings are held in the Greenport Fire House, the village would have to assemble and take down the equipment for every meeting, Village Clerk Sylvia Pirillo said.

The village has done “zoom meetings,” using the Go to Meeting app, where everyone is filmed remotely and can communicate with the board and back.

However, recently, the village has held in-person meetings where the public can attend, but only a certain number of people can be in the room at once, and they must stay six feet apart and wear masks.

Trustee Julia Robins said that when there is a tot topic on the agenda, some people are forced to stand outside. The village has speakers outdoors during these meetings.

In Southold and Riverhead towns, the public is not allowed to attend the meetings in person, but they can watch the meetings online or on Channel 22, and they can ask questions or make comments.

Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said that in the last three years “attendance at village board meetings has been minimal at best.”

Ms. Phillips said that with more people moving to the East End permanently or working from home, the number of people interested in the village board could change. She said the village should investigate the costs of the upgrade.

“We are reaching out to the community to make sure they have the opportunity to see how we work,” she said.