By SHERIDAN ROY
Town Council chair Chris Palmieri (D) and vice chair Dawn Miceli (D) hosted the first of many “Council Chats,” an informal meeting in Town Hall where residents are invited to talk freely with councilors on various issues.
The meetings have no set agenda, and allow residents to have back-and-forth conversations with councilors. At regular Town Council meetings, residents may speak to councilors during public communication, but councilors must follow a strict format during meetings and often can’t respond directly.
“This gave us an opportunity to have a more intimate conversation rather than a formalized meeting with a set agenda,” said Palmieri after the meeting. “It gave residents a chance to share thoughts and concerns with us that they have.”
Though only a handful of residents came out, both Palmieri and Miceli had a positive outlook.
“I would have liked to have seen a few more people here, but I’m heartened that we had a few people,” said Miceli.
The group discussed a number of topics, including trash removal, school access walkways, levels of services and associated costs, car break-ins, traffic and more.
“Council Chats” was scheduled in place of December’s Committee of the Chairs meeting. At the last meeting of the chairs, it was decided that this is a slow time of year, and that meetings going forward would occur every other month as needed.
“This was an initiative that Chris and I ran on during the last election,” said Miceli. “We hope to hear from residents who maybe aren’t comfortable coming to a televised, public meeting. I feel much less reserved in this type of close-knit situation. We can talk freely, and direct the person to the right place.”
Though both the chair and vice chair are Democrats, Palmieri and Miceli pointed out that any councilor can attend the meetings if they choose to.
“Any council member is welcome to attend,” Palmieri said. “We just have to be careful because we can’t have everyone there. Otherwise, we’re back to a regular council meeting. We should avoid a quorum.”
The “Council Chats” are planned to continue but will play by ear, depending on the Committee of the Chairs meetings. To find out when the next one will be held, keep an eye out for announcements on the town website, or on the Southington Town Council Facebook page.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@Southing-tonObserver.com.