TAMPA, Fla. – For the first time in nearly three months, Tampa City Council does not meet at City Hall on Thursday – but at the convention center.
What you need to know
- Residents who are present must wear a mask and have the temperature checked
- Officials say that Convention Center will enable social distance
- Thursday’s meeting will take place for the first time in 3 months
- More political headlines
With its spacious rooms, the center can enable social distance in the COVID-19 world in a way not possible in their usual rooms – with councilors sitting six feet apart and only fifty seats assembled for the public to to observe (there will be additional seating outside the living room).
“I am very excited that we will meet in person,” said Councilor John Dingfelder. “I think human interaction is much better with the audience or with each other personally.”
While Dingfelder and other councilors may be tired of having conference calls, the main reason for switching from virtual meetings is that much of their work is considered “quasi-judicial”. The city’s legal staff has advised that these meetings are electronically problematic and much more conducive to a personal conversation.
“We haven’t met in person since March and the agendas are backing up,” said Guido Maniscalco, chairman of the city council. “With repurposing, land use permits and alcoholic drinks. People are waiting. ‘
Although city officials didn’t contact Congress and tourism director Una Garvey about moving their public meetings to the convention center until April, she knew early on that it was probably the only facility that could handle such meetings.
“We decided that we would build a room and be prepared for it so that we were ready when the decision was made to move forward,” she tells Spectrum Bay News 9.
“There’s a lot of technology and innovation coming into this space, from our audio / visual camera component to the overhead projectors, cable television coming in … as well as our sound and internet access infrastructure,” said Garvey. “All these things play a big part, so it takes a while to fix all the kinks and it looks like the city rooms.”
Members of the public who wish to attend the meetings must wear a mask (or one will be provided). They must enter through the canal entrance of the building, where they are greeted by an official who takes their temperature.
There are reminders everywhere in the convention center that people should be two meters apart (including on the escalators). Other upgrades include the use of electrostatic cleaning of the spray surface and the caregivers in each of the upgraded toilets.
“I think we’ll continue to use the convention center as long as there is a COVID problem,” says Dingfelder. And if that is not possible?
“Maybe we should go to one of our recreation facilities,” he says, adding, “I would be very concerned about going back to the Tampa City Council rooms.”