WOODSTOCK — Woodstock officials are exploring the possibility of a “drive-in” annual town meeting next month.

The meeting, originally scheduled for March, was postponed due to the COVID-19 virus situation.  Since then selectmen have been discussing trying to hold it in June, but a state directive at this point will still ban gatherings of more than 50 people.
So at Tuesday’s selectmen’s Zoom meeting the town officials got creative and proposed holding it in the large parking lot outside the town office, with residents parked in their cars and hearing and participating in the discussion via an AM radio station-style feed, much like a drive-in theater.  A “runner” could carry a microphone to residents who wish to speak on the issues.  Some socially-distanced chairs could also be set up outside.
Fire Chief Kyle Hopps has researched the logistics. He said a radio transmitter can be purchased for about $150, and would transmit about 250 feet. A booster could be had for about $500, if greater distance is needed.
Selectmen said they liked the idea.
Town Manager Vern Maxfield said ballot clerks could be positioned at the entrance to the fire station/garage on Monk Ave. to check in voters and give them voting cards. The town officials could be located on a trailer just outside the office, with a podium to speak from.
In the event of rain, the meeting might be moved to the next day.  The dates of June 8 or 15 (Mondays) were mentioned as possibilities.  If a nighttime meeting seemed like it would present problems outside, Maxfield said a Saturday might be considered.
Hopps suggested they purchase the transmitter soon to determine if the whole arrangement is workable, and the board agreed.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the board discussed the possibility of re-opening the town office for people to come into the building in late May.
Currently Maxfield and Deputy Town Clerk Rose Fraser work a few hours a week at the office and handle some business through the window.
Selectmen discussed setting up a plexiglass barrier on the counter to protect both employees and customers, and marking a six-foot point to stand back from the counter.  Maxfield said he would gather more information.
The next board meeting via Zoom will be May 19 at 5 p.m.


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