Carson City is working to reopen its board and committee meetings to the public.
A project is underway to equip the Community Center’s Bob Boldrick Theater for public meetings while the much smaller Sierra Room, where most meetings are usually held, is renovated to accommodate the public under restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Assuming all things go well, (the theater) should be ready to support the Board of Supervisors’ first meeting in October,” said James Underwood, acting chief information officer.
The city is planning to move meetings there as soon as it’s ready, said Nancy Paulson, city manager. The theater has seating for 587 people and will be limited to half that under COVID-related restrictions.
All of it is being paid for from a pool of $10 million the city received in CARES Act funding to cover costs associated with the virus. The money must be spent before year end.
The supervisors two weeks ago approved an $117,378.50 contract with CCS Presentation Systems to add projectors, cameras and monitors to the theater so meetings there can be broadcast live on cable TV and online.
Displays will be installed in the lobby so the public can congregate there while social distancing. And the Sierra Room will get touch screen PCs for board and committee members as well as a new camera, microphones and monitors.
At the same time, fiber optic cabling is being added so wi-fi is available throughout the Community Center instead of in select rooms.
Public Works will do the bulk of work in the Sierra Room, which will start once the theater becomes available for meetings and be completed in December.
“This will entail expanding the dais so all (supervisors) can sit there (currently only three fit), and reconfiguring the layout of the room to fit the new dais layout,” said Darren Schulz, director, Public Works. “Once COVID is over, the larger dais will accommodate some of the larger boards, commissions, and committees that meet in there now.”
Once the project is done, the theater can continue to be used for larger public meetings. The Planning Commission, for example, used the theater several years ago when it heard the plan for the controversial Vintage residential project that drew more people than the Sierra Room could hold.
The public is currently prohibited from meetings, but can watch online or on TV and can call into the meetings to make public comments.