After almost three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are adopting hybrid options as a new permanent way of conducting business. The Highlands Ranch Community Association, on the other hand, is considering a return to pre-pandemic modes of gathering.
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In a delegate meeting on Sept. 20, board members of the Highlands Ranch Community Association discussed their intent to move future meetings to in-person only. After some type of virtual meeting option has been available since April 2020, this decision would eliminate the possibility for community members to attend meetings virtually for the time being.
Board member Melissa Park said the goal of transitioning to in-person meetings was based on the results of a survey sent to the delegates. According to executive assistant Theresa Hill, the survey was sent at the end of August.
In an interview with Colorado Community Media, General Manager Mike Bailey said 51 out of 85 delegates responded to the survey and 60% of them favored a return to in-person meetings.
“A lot of it was based on the feedback that we got regarding the technology — we just don't have what is needed,” Park said. “And obviously, we’ve all shared in those frustrations. So for now, we're ready to move forward with in-person.”
During the meeting, Bailey cited improvements that need to be made to the screen, projector and sound system in the meeting room at Southridge Recreation Center, where in-person meetings would be held going forward. Technology purchases in these areas could be utilized for a virtual setting in the future, Bailey said.
“We're not going to combust the virtual option, just at this point in time the survey said (people) would like to get back together,” he said. “We're still going to move expeditiously to see if we can find a permanent solution.”
Thirty-five participants joined the Sept. 20 meeting via Zoom, according to the application. During the discussion, online participants expressed frustration in the Zoom chat.
Teri Hjelmstad, delegate of district 70, commented that the survey questions seemed as though they were written to encourage people to vote for in-person meetings over virtual ones. Others wrote that they never even saw the survey.
While a few commenters supported in-person meetings, most comments expressed concern that eliminating the virtual option would reduce community engagement.
“I'm not proposing that we take away the in-person meetings, and other people shouldn't propose that we take away the virtual meetings,” said district 11 delegate Mike Woodland over Zoom to the group. “We should be given the option.”
He also said delegates should have a chance to vote on the matter.
“Who made this decision? Was it the board voting on it? Because in my opinion, it being the delegates meeting, we should be the ones voting on it,” he said.
Woodland acknowledged there had been audio and bandwidth issues with a couple of past meetings, but said many meetings had no technological issues.
In response to these concerns, Park announced the decision would be put on hold for review of the Zoom chat comments and further discussion.
The board will discuss the topic further at its next working session on Oct. 10, Bailey told CCM. All HRCA meetings are open to members.
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