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Wallingford government, community agencies waiting to reopen

Wallingford government, community agencies waiting to reopen

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — Municipal agencies and community services are still waiting to reopen facilities to the public as Gov. Ned Lamont rolls out a four-phase plan for reopening the state’s economy.

Many businesses, including restaurants, retail, offices and outdoor recreation, reopened Wednesday during Phase 1.

Government always was considered essential and operations were not restricted under Lamont’s executive orders.

Although Town Hall is still conducting business, the building has been closed to walk-in traffic since March 30. People are able to make appointments with town officials and often meet in the parking lot, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said.

In order to unlock Town Hall’s exterior doors, Dickinson said he would need to consult with state and local health officials and wait until Lamont eases restrictions on gatherings of more than five people. The same process would have to be used to reopen the buildings of the public utilities and police departments to the public, he said.

Meetings of town boards and commissions have been taking place remotely using the video conference platform GoToMeeting.

“We will continue doing what we’re doing now until a decision is made,” Dickinson said.

Library, senior center

The Wallingford Public Library has been closed since March 17. Library Director Jane Fisher said Monday that there’s no anticipated date yet for a return to full service, although the library continues to offer virtual programs.

“We are continuously reviewing updated guidelines from public health authorities and plan to reopen as soon as we safely can,” she said via email. “It's too soon to say, but we are preparing for the possibility that we will not be able open for full service until the schools reopen in the fall.”

The library is preparing for a June launch of a “Park 'n Pickup” service to get library books back into the hands of patrons. 

Fisher said the state needs to to develop specific guidelines for public libraries.

“We are different from retail settings because our products are ‘shared,’” she said.

The library plans to implement new procedures like quarantining returned items for 72 hours, removing half of its furniture and computers and removing shared toys in the children's room.

“It is going to feel very sad for a period of time,” she said.

The Wallingford Senior Center has been closed since March 13. Executive Director Bill Viola said Monday that a partial reopening is tentatively scheduled for June 22.

“Our number one concern is the safety of our members who, as older adults—many of whom have underlying health conditions—are the most vulnerable population group,” Viola said via email. “The safety of our staff, many of whom are also older adults, is a priority, too.”

Before reopening the building, Viola said staff would need additional protective equipment, such as additional sanitizer dispensers, and protective barriers for the front reception desk and kitchen and cafe areas.

“We are really looking for the governor’s next phase guidelines and restrictions to give us more information and also relying on our local health department for guidance,” he said.

Viola said a number of new measures are being considered, including limiting the number of people in the building at any one time, eliminating the use of smaller rooms and using fewer tables and chairs to provide physical spacing in the Great Room area, as well as temperature-taking and mask-wearing.

“We are currently planning to continue offering many online opportunities in June,” he said, “along with some outdoor activities such as hikes and some outdoor concerts.”

Community activities might resume in late June

The Parks and Recreation Department released its summer catalog recently, which included information on programs starting in late June.

The Wallingford Family YMCA has announced a reopening date of June 20 as part of Phase 2 of Lamont’s reopening plan. The Y has been closed since March 16.

Many annual community events are scheduled to happen this summer, though with restrictions.

In place of the traditional Memorial Day parade, the Veterans Memorial Committee plans to televise a memorial service on the Wallingford Government Television channel on Memorial Day.

The annual Skyhoundz Frisbee competition is slated for July 29 at Doolittle Park. The Twilight Tunes weekly outdoor concert series is scheduled to run July 8 to Aug. 12 on the Parade Grounds.

The Wallingford Garden Market is slated to run Saturdays from July 13 to Sept. 21 at Doolittle Park, though it’s slated to be food and farm vendors only without crafts, live music, demonstrations or candles.

Information on high school graduation is slated to be released by district officials this week.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores