Meeting closed over potential JCC land buy

Closing the meeting to the public first, the Chautauqua County Planning Board talked about the potential acquisition of land for Jamestown Community College soccer fields at Tuesday’s meeting in Dunkirk.

JCC’s president, Daniel DeMarte, began his presentation about the plan by asking if any members of the media were there in the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator meeting room.

When informed that the OBSERVER was present, DeMarte asked it not to report on parts of his presentation related to buying land for the fields. The OBSERVER replied that if there was information he did not want publicized, he should ask for an executive session. In executive session, a meeting is closed to people who are not board members or invited to stay in the room for business directly related to the session.

Doug Bowen, Planning Board supervisor, immediately motioned for an executive session on the grounds that “privileged information” was going to be discussed.

Although the OBSERVER complied and left the room, “privileged information” does not fall under one of the eight categories that may be discussed behind closed doors under the state Open Meetings Law. However, DeMarte’s discussion would seem to fall under the following category: “The proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition of securities, or sale or exchange of securities held by such public body, but only when publicity would substantially affect the value thereof.”

There are no criminal penalties set forth by the Open Meetings Law, only civil ones. Therefore, public officials cannot be arrested for violations of them, but they can be sued.

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