Video Tour: Coronavirus safety renovations at Wilton Town Hall
WILTON — Although it is not yet ready to be reopened to the public, Wilton Town Hall has been renovated and refitted in order to operate more safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of measures have been taken to maintain social distancing and minimize personal contact between town hall staff and the public.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice led the Bulletin on a video tour of town hall and the town hall annex offices on July 14, describing the safety features and protections that have been put into place.
Glass windows with sneeze guards have been affixed to permanent composite wood bases and installed in various departments, including the tax collector, tax assessor, finance and town clerk’s offices.
Work spaces were moved around, along with electrical and computer lines, in order to maintain social distancing for the staff. Sashes were replaced on windows so they can be opened to allow fresh air in to circulate.
Stairs outside, leading directly into the town clerk’s office, are being replaced. That entrance will serve as the main entryway for title searchers and others needing to use that office and the land records vault.
A room previously used for Board of Selectmen and other meetings is in the process of being converted into a room for the public, where residents can meet one-on-one with town officials. A side-door entrance to the room will be used so the public does not need to walk through the building.
The room is presently being used by town officials preparing for the presidential preference primary on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Protection of the staff and the public is weighing on Vanderslice’s mind.
“We’re not opening the building to the public before the primary,” she said. “The decision to open will be based on the need to do so and what is happening with the pandemic.”
While the building is now only being used by staff members, business with the public has been ongoing throughout the pandemic. In the entranceway at the back of town hall, there is a dropbox where tax payments can be made, as well as pickup and dropoff boxes for other town transactions. When the weather gets colder, Vanderslice said that arrangement may change, “dictated by need and what is happening with the pandemic.”
Across from town hall, changes have also been made at the town hall annex which houses offices for Public Works, Environmental Affairs, Land Use, Planning and Zoning, and the Health Department.
At the entrance to the annex, there are displays of forms that residents can use in order to conduct business with the town, as well as various pickup and dropoff boxes for each department.
More social distancing in the annex has been created between staff work areas, and glass and sneeze guard fixtures have also been installed.
Like town hall, the meeting room in the annex is being remodeled so it can be used by staff to meet with members of the public.
Staff in both buildings have a plentiful supply of hand sanitizer and masks.
“Our staff has been working throughout the pandemic, many from home, and it creates anxiety for them to come back, so we are putting them in safe areas to lessen the anxiety,” Vanderslice said.
Renovations to the buildings cost around $60,000 to $65,000, including some safety installations done at the police and fire departments. Vanderslice expects the majority of the costs will be reimbursable from the state and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Local vendors were used for the project, she said.
Wilton Town Hall has been closed to the public since mid-March in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.