CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Town Hall will reopen to the public on June 1 and the Community Center now under the state guidelines.
The Select Board voted at last week's marathon meeting to begin normalization of town operations, including the resumption of in-person meetings.
Town buildings were closed March 8, 2020, after a Clarksburg resident tested positive for the first case of COVID-19 in Berkshire County. Since then, public access has been limited, although the library and Community Center partially opened a few weeks ago and the school for in-person learning last fall.
With the state guidelines now allowing 25 percent occupancy and indoor limits to be expanded again on May 29, town officials believed it was time to follow suit.
The board is shifting its meetings to the Community Center to allow for spacing. That's where members met Wednesday for the first time in person since early last fall.
"If you do the math, it comes out to 26 individuals in this building," Chairman Ronald Boucher said, noting the occupancy was 101. "They're separated and wear masks."
The Council on Aging already has contact tracing forms and a digital thermometer for people entering the building, which were used Wednesday night. COA members had been advocating for months to increase attendance numbers that had been capped at 10.
The board voted to allow the higher numbers immediately. The decision to wait until June 1 for Town Hall was to ensure that all the employees in the building were two weeks past their second vaccination dose.
Boucher floated the idea of putting a window from the entranceway into the treasurer's office to keep people in the hallway and make it easier to sanitize.
"You're able to conduct your business without having anybody really inside of Town Hall unless there's a preset appointment," he said.
But Select Board member Danielle Luchi disagreed, believing it would be an unnecessary cost at this point.
"I think that's a great idea. But now you're talking about putting holes in the walls that we don't know if there's plumbing, electrical or load bearing," she said. "Everything will be open before we get a hole in the wall."
They discussed it for a bit but then thought there was unlikely to be a great number of people coming in. Boucher noted that the town had been working remotely now for a year and residents had gotten used to it.
If the board and Community Center had a plans ready that followed state guidelines, the Board of Health members who attended didn't feel the need to meet again and approve them.
Luchi also moved for the Select Board to no longer use Webex for its meetings and to meet in person. The town has been using the videoconferencing platform its meetings.
In other business during the more than four-hour meeting, the board:
• Approved a new contract for information technology services from Jason Morin, who has been providing IT services. Board members discussed a number of changes with Morin, including updating security and the network structure, and making Police Chief Michael Williams administrative backup.
• Answered questions about roads, business and playgrounds with eighth-graders Jaycob Bennett, Jordin Sullivan and Aly Bowman from teacher Mark Karhan's history class. The questions were a school project and the students participated over Webex.
• Discussed the purchase of a new firetruck with Fire Chief Carlyle "Chip" Chesbro, who gave some history on the last purchase and why a new truck was needed. The rough estimate is $400,000. The purchase will not be in this coming fiscal year.
• Accepted with regret the resignation of temporary Town Clerk Jessica Sweeney. The board members said Sweeney had done a great deal to improve efficiency and procedures in the office; Sweeney said she appreciated the town but had other commitments on her time. The town will vote this election whether to make the position a 15-hour appointed position. Sweeney said she would stay on until June 30 for the election and town meeting and to help in the transition to a new clerk.
• The board is soliciting interest for new members to serve on the Council on Aging. Most of the members' terms have expired or have extended beyond their two-term limit.
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