The Lakewood Village Board Needs To Make Meeting Changes

For too long, the Lakewood Village Board has flouted the state building codes by holding crowded meetings in the second floor of the Anthony C. Caprino building.

The issues arises when the board expects controversial issues to arise in large crowds at meetings, such as the vote for an interim mayor or last month’s votes on accepting grant money for stormwater management and village beautification projects. The board moves the meetings from the typical first floor meeting room in the Caprino building to the second floor, which has more space but which also is posted for a maximum occupancy of 49 people. That limit has been exceeded several times in recent months, a problem because the room isn’t safe for occupancy for that many people in case of an emergency. A labeled exit at the northwest corner of the room leads to the roof and not safely away from the building, leaving one doorway as the only safe means of entrance and exit for the special meeting place.

The village has two choices: spend the money to make the building safe for larger groups or move meetings where large crowds are expected to other buildings within the village. The village could easily use the Busti town office building on Chautauqua Avenue, which is located a stone’s throw away from the Caprino building and which has been offered by Jesse Robbins, Busti town supervisor, as an alternate location. It makes little sense to many that there are two municipal buildings in the village of Lakewood anyway; it makes even less sense that village officials have thus far refused to use Busti’s building when they expect large crowds.

Three board members told The Post-Journal’s Eric Zavinski they either expect the village to begin moving meetings or that they want the meetings moved. The meetings should be moved until the second floor is made safe for large crowds — and if they are not, then Swanson absolutely should cite the Village Board for its noncompliance. The Village Board cannot expect village residents to follow the building codes and the edicts of village planning and zoning boards if the Village Board flouts the same rules and guidelines.