Commissioners, Snowmass town meetings could find place online
July 10, 2006
Meetings of Snowmass Town council and Pitkin County commissioners could be available on the Web in the near future, much to the delight of second-home owners.The Pitkin County commissioners and the Snowmass Town council considered the possibility at a joint meeting last week. GrassRoots TV broadcasts meetings of the two bodies and Aspen City Council on channel 11, and streams them on the Internet at http://www.grassrootstv.org.Snowmass publicist Kathleen Wanatowicz demonstrated the capabilities of Granicus, a company that specializes in streaming and archiving local government meetings. The service would also archive meeting minutes and agendas. Another possibility would be real-time streaming by Everwave, a local service provider.County commissioners wanted more information before they made a decision on the service. Granicus is much more expensive, costing roughly $12,000 to $16,000 to set up, with additional fees each month. Using Everwave would cost $2,649 to set up, plus $2,400 per year for service.”I’m real sensitive to the cost of this and who’s going to use it,” commissioner Jack Hatfield said. Commissioner Dorothea Farris wanted a better idea of who would actually use the archives before the county and Snowmass foot the bill. She and Hatfield also wanted to discuss the possibility of including Aspen City Council in such a deal.”I need a whole lot more information and who it’s going to reach,” she said.However, the subject garnered a great deal of public comment – mostly from second-home owners. They said being able to keep up with government affairs when they aren’t in Snowmass would be of great benefit.”When we’re not here, we’re totally disenfranchised,” said Dr. George Bletsas, who lives in Michigan and Snowmass. “I would urge you to go ahead with this.”Even 12-year-old Nathan Klein, whose family is from Minnesota and spends the summer in Snowmass, said he’s tried to be politically active. He can do more of that if he can access meetings online in Minnesota.”I think the Web streaming would be a perfect way to do that,” Nathan said.Snowmass resident Mel Blumenthal noted that even full-time Snowmass residents often spend chunks of time away from home, so the archives wouldn’t just benefit second-home owners.”When they’re out of the community, live broadcasts don’t work,” Blumenthal said. But with the archives, “people that are interested can watch whenever they want.”Carbondale residents could also benefit from archived county meetings, as GrassRoots TV doesn’t reach that part of the valley.Snowmass Mayor Doug Mercatoris said it would be important to consider the possibility of an archives because Snowmass and Aspen are so much different than other communities.”We do have a unique situation in that we have a lot of second-home owners interested in what’s going on,” he said.Greg Schreier’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.