July 9, 2020

Old Lyme Town Hall Reopens to Public Monday With New Protocols in Place

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold

OLD LYME — UPDATED  6/22: Speaking at the June 15 Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting, which was held virtually via Webex, First Selectman Tim Griswold said exuberantly, “Come the 22nd, we’ll be open for public access.”

He was referring to the fact that the board of selectmen has set the date for town employees to return to work at Memorial Town Hall as Monday, June 22, which is the same day that it will also open to the public — but in both cases with many new restrictions.

The most significant change is, in Griswold’s words, that, “the front door will remain closed,” with a lock-box being used for tax payments, beach passes, documents for filing with the the town clerk and so forth.

He explained that people coming to town hall will, “Use the double-doors by the Meeting Hall and must have a face mask. They will be met by a greeter.”  The greeter’s role will be to determine when sufficient space is available to maintain social distancing guidelines at the department the person wishes to visit.

Adding, “If someone wants to speak with a particular person, they will have to call for an appointment,” Griswold also noted that hand-sanitizer will be available at numerous locations throughout the building.

He concluded, “There’ll be a period of getting used to this new way of working.”

In an email to staff, Griswold had previously explained the precautions being taken and the new protocols that will be in place for intra-staff interactions as well as those between staff and members of the public.

Griswold states in the email, “Personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves will be provided to employees and I ask that staff wear masks when in hallways and other common areas.”

He then lists the measures that are being implemented to protect both the health of employees and the public.

In terms of foot traffic entering the building, the main Town Hall doors and lower level doors will remain locked.

People will enter through the double doors in the foyer next to the meeting hall (at the left of the building as one looks at it from the road) where two Parks and Recreation “Greeters” will meet them and take the temperature of each member of the public entering the building. These “Greeters” will also ensure that each person is wearing a mask and if no mask is present, one will be provided.

Parks and Recreation Director Don Bugbee will serve as the manager of the Greeters.

The Greeters will then direct the public to the office they wish to visit.

In the event more than two or three people are requesting access to a specific office at the same time, the Greeters will ask members of the public to wait in the Meeting Hall. The Greeters will use walkie-talkies to communicate with the larger volume offices.

Once the line is sufficiently reduced, the Greeter will direct the next person waiting to proceed to that office.

The public will have access to the main floor restrooms only. There will be no public access to the lower level.

Regarding general sanitizing facilities and procedures, there will be hand sanitizing stations at the main entrance and in other locations in Town Hall. Dutch doors with built-in counters will be installed in the  First Selectman’s and Assessor’s office doorways. Plexiglass barriers will be placed in the doorways above the counters.

Plexiglass barriers will also be installed in the Town Clerk’s office and in the Building and Land Use areas on the second floor.

Tape will be used to show the public where to stand so that they remain six feet apart while they are waiting for a staff member.

The Town Hall cleaning contractor will continue daily sanitizing of common areas.

Business interactions will see a number of changes. Beach passes, tax payments, and dog licenses will only be accepted by drop-off or in the mail (except for cash payments). Beach passes will not be issued in person.

Griswold notes in his email, “We are strongly encouraging members of the public to conduct their business by phone and/or mail to reduce the number of people entering Town Hall,” adding that a front door lock box has been installed and will be utilized for people to drop off items outside of regular hours.

He also stresses that all meetings with Town Hall staff will take place by appointment only in the immediate term. and that boards, commissions, and committees will continue to meet virtually until the State changes restrictions on in-person gatherings.

Griswold concludes the email, “I appreciate your patience and flexibility as we adapt to doing business differently for the foreseeable future.”

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