Conservation group to offer pandemic webinar Wednesday

Lapin

The Otsego County Conservation Association will offer a webinar Wednesday, May 20, about how communities can adapt and succeed in their goals during and after the coronavirus pandemic. 

The hourlong, free event, "The Power of Planning, During and After the Pandemic," will take place at 1 p.m. Wednesday. It will be posted on OCCA's online platforms afterward.

OCCA Environmental Planner Danny Lapin, who is also an Otsego County representative from Oneonta, will speak about how municipal planning will change after the pandemic and how decisions can be made now to facilitate those changes.   

"I'm excited to talk about how do we adapt our local governments to be more flexible and nimble, especially about how do we use land," Lapin said.   

He said the challenge for local governments and businesses will be to rethink planning options in a smart way that includes redesigning public spaces and reimagining how people use those spaces. 

"There's a lot questions to be asked because of the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "Do we need these large office spaces now that people have shifted to working from home? Do we continue to live in a car-based economy and what does it look like if we don't?"

Lapin said one problem the pandemic has exposed to a greater degree is the need for broadband internet in rural areas. With work and schools shifting from on-site work to home-based work, people without good internet service are at a big disadvantage, he said. 

"There is a stark awareness that we need more investment in broadband internet," he said. 

The webinar will be conducted via Zoom and it is open to anyone interested in public planning and environmental issues, Lapin said. He said he expects several local government officials to take part, and the event has also been shared with officials statewide in hopes of attracting a large number of people to the conversation. 

"I hope we can come up with some answers about how we can be capable of adapting in the aftermath of this pandemic," he said. 

Lapin said the event is part of an attempt by OCCA to continue its mission of protecting the county's natural resources and keeping residents informed about important environmental issues and concerns. 

"All of our outreach programs are canceled right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "So we have been holding these free seminars so we can keep the public engaged in environmental conservation. 

"We want to continue to make Otsego County a better place to live," he said. 

Go to www.occainfo.org to sign up and receive a link to the Zoom meeting. 

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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