If you’ve been to a Lake Worth City Commission meeting lately at City Hall, you probably noticed the chambers look like a sports bar as four, 60-inch Samsung flat-screens now hang overhead.
There’s another TV — a 32-inch — in the hallway for the overflow crowd and another 60-inch in the conference room for city officials.
No one, however, is watching the Marlins or the Heat.
The flat-screens are part of an ambitious project Lake Worth planned in the fall to make meetings accessible to more residents.
“The idea was to make everything more transparent and allow more people to be involved in city commission meetings,” Ben Kerr, a city spokesman, said. “Our citizens are very active and engaged, but not all of them can make it out to City Hall.”
The project goes beyond TVs.
Meetings were previously recorded on a web-cam and streamed on the city’s website. The problem with that, however, Kerr said, was that viewers could only watch in a Windows browser.
So the city tapped PrimeStar Digital Network, a live television production and streaming service provider, to upgrade the system.
The company, based in Lake Worth, installed four cameras and improved the audio equipment. The city also changed the website player it uses to stream meetings, Kerr said, noting it’s the same one used by Netflix and Amazon Prime.
“You can watch the meetings on your phone and its adaptable,” Kerr said. “If you’re watching on your phone inside Publix, (the player) will give you what you need.”
The player is also now prominently displayed on the website, where before it was more difficult to find.
Residents have noticed.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Maryann Polizzi, a consultant fundraiser who ran for the District 4 seat won by Herman Robinson. “The audience can see better, but I’m not sure why they needed all those TVs. The audio could be much better because it’s still hard to hear.”
Richard Guercio, a business consultant who regularly attends commission meetings, watched part of Tuesday’s special work session on his iPhone.
“I was able to cleanly and clearly watch it… so the cameras and audio for the live streaming are a touchdown,” Guercio said. “The one-third second delay of the feed to the screens in the chamber can be a bit distracting, but for the purpose of displaying presentation items, it’s a major upgrade from the projector screen on the one side of the room.”
The project has been in the works for years but was officially planned in October, Kerr said. It took about a month to complete and was fully unveiled during this past month’s swearing-in ceremony for new commissioners Robinson and Omari Hardy.
“We had some glitches with the audio,” Kerr said. “Tuesday’s meeting was where we got it the most right and just had some minor corrections, like replacing batteries in the microphones.”
Kerr said he didn’t have a figure on how much the project cost. City Manager Michael Bornstein did not return a call seeking comment.
“This has been a big upgrade,” Kerr said. “It’s not like next year we’ll have to to another one. We’re set for a good, couple of years.”