City hall reopens, Merrill Go-Round resumes on limited basis
At the regularly scheduled Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting on Tuesday, May 19, the COW announced their plan to reopen City Hall and all closed departments as of Tuesday, May 26.
“At that time we will also be opening all of the offices and the transit will be open,” said City Administrator Dave Johnson. “However we will be running two buses instead of three and they will primarily be used to transport people for shopping and medical appointments.”
”We have not yet made a decision on if the aquatic center will be opening this year, however at this time it is not looking good,” Johnson continued.
“As of yesterday (May 18) Schofield officially announced their pool will stay closed. All of the area pools have come together and they are looking at following the governor’s bounce-back plan and we would have to get to stage three of that plan before we can open the pool.”
Johnson then went on to touch on the Merrill Enrichment Center, stating that it will be opening on a slower basis, due to the people using the building being at high risk for COVID-19.
“With the Enrichment Center, since it serves the people at our highest vulnerability to COVID-19, we will be opening that at a slower pace. We probably won’t have everything available there until the middle of the summer,” Johnson added. “There is a plan to start reintroducing the workout classes there, where there will be one instructor and a maximum number of nine other people in the class. Another part to that is they will be doubling their classes, so instead of one class there will be two.”
”Opening up the library is going to be a whole other challenge,” stated Johnson on opening the T.B. Scott Library.
“We have a problem with people wanting to drop their kids off at the library all summer and another problem with people wanting to come inside and sit in the air conditioning all day, so there are some things to work out before they are ready to open.”
When asked about employees needing to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), Johnson stated that it will not be required for employees, however he encourages the public to use them when entering city buildings.
”We aren’t going to require any of the employees to wear masks in the buildings,” said Johnson. “We have windows set up at most desks and those are even better protection than a mask, but if an employee wants to wear a mask they are welcome to. However, we will be asking visitors and people who come into those offices to wear a mask. There will be a sign outside the buildings encouraging people to wear them, but we still will not require them.”
In other news from Tuesday’s meeting, the COW decided to hold off on a decision to furlough the Festival Grounds Manager position.
During discussion, Second District Alderman Steve Hass explained the reason the city is looking at furloughing this position is due to many events being cancelled at the Festival Grounds this year. ”The reason I brought this up is because there isn’t going to be very many events at the Festival Grounds this year,” said Hass. “We have to look for budget savings everywhere we can and I don’t think we can justify paying this salary, when we may have to take someone else’s job instead. This isn’t personal against Mr. (Richard) Bjorklund (Current Festival Grounds Manager), I like him as a person and he has done a good job, this is strictly about the position.”
The committee agreed to continue talks on this in closed session during the Personnel and Finance Committee Meeting, which took place on Tuesday night, May 26.