Glenville will become the first Schenectady County municipality to reopen town offices that had been closed to the public by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Modifications have been made inside the Town Hall for the safety of both residents and staff, and offices will reopen to the public in the mornings starting Wednesday, May 6, Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said.
“Both residents and staff have indicated to us that this is the way to go,” Koetzle said of reopening to the public.
While much of the town’s business could be done by email and phone, Koetzle said there are transactions like building permits, marriage licenses and assessment reviews where face-to-face interaction works better, and town officials recognize that. Also, collection of water bills is scheduled to start June 1, and people may pay that bill in-person.
Initially, Koetzle said, different departments will be open different days, to reduce the number of staff and the public in the building. The planning, building, code enforcement and engineer’s offices will be open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon, while the town clerk, assessor, receiver of taxes, finance and court clerk will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon.
Offices will continue to be closed to the public on Fridays. Employees will be in their offices in afternoons by appointment.
“We want to do it in a limited way, and so we still are following the guideline that only 50 percent of staff report, and limiting the number of people in Town Hall at any given time,” Koetzle said.
The Town Hall on Glenridge Road has been closed to the public since March 17, around the same time that municipal offices across the region were closed in accordance with directives from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo intended to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
In the interim, the town has planned to improve safety by installing glass partitions above the open counters between town staff and the public, and a new window between the offices as entryway hall is being created. Town staff will be required to wear masks and will have gloves available, and the public is also being asked to wear masks while in Town Hall.
“We have taken all the [Centers for Disease Control] precautions and insured everything is done in a safe and responsible manner,” Koetzle said.
The modifications in the town offices have cost $8,000 to $10,000, but Koetzle said he expects up to 75 percent of the cost to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Even with Town Hall opening, most other town facilities that could attract more than a handful of people will remain closed. The dog park, playgrounds and tennis courts are all closed, though hiking trails in town parks are open for those who need to get outdoor exercise. The Senior Citizen Center will remain closed through at least the end of May.