Beginning on Monday, Bedford Select Board meetings will take place in the large multi-purpose room at Town Hall.
That’s because, according to Interim Town Manager Colleen Doyle, “a few members of the board have expressed concern about a second egress.”
Board members discussed their options at their meeting on Thursday night. Several acknowledged that although there are acoustical and technology concerns in the multi-purpose room, safety should be the priority.
No one specified a reason for the sudden concern. The building is equipped with a sprinkler system.
At a meeting on Aug. 14, a resident speaking out of order in the Select Board meeting room was arrested after he refused police commands to stop.
Brian Covel, who was charged with disturbing a public event and resisting arrest, was recognized during the “public comment” session of Thursday’s meeting on Zoom. Covel, who has expressed grievances against police and elected and appointed officials, said he will continue to speak during that segment of board meetings.
Several efforts this week by police to serve Covel at his home with a no-trespassing order for Town Hall signed by the interim town manager were unsuccessful, as the document has to be presented in person.
Plans are for a police presence at board meetings. Chief John Fisher was present on Thursday.
On Thursday, Doyle said any modifications to the architecture in the Select Board’s meeting room would take significant time and include an addition to the long-term capital plan. The single-access second-floor conference room was also ruled out.
Board member Shawn Hanegan suggested that a second egress could be an opening for an intruder, but Doyle pointed out that the outside access would be locked.
Member Margot Fleischman said, “We should be working on the utility and technology for this room regardless.” The space, named for former longtime Town Manager Richard Reed, is an overflow for town board meetings, and “we should make sure folks are having a good quality experience when they come here.”
Several board members said their hope is to ultimately return to the board’s meeting room. The space is also used by the Finance Committee and some other town boards and committees. The Planning Board and Conservation Commission have not resumed in-person sessions there.
Town Hall originally served as a junior high school, and the Reed Room was the gymnasium and auditorium.
Editor’s Note: This story was corrected to note that police have been trying several times to serve Covel at his home with a no-trespassing order for Town Hall that was signed by Interim Town Manager Colleen Doyle, not by a court order as was originally reported.