West Hartford town officials will be evaluating and modifying operations, but for the next few days Town Hall will be completely closed.
By Ronni Newton
Mayor Shari Cantor and Town Manager Matt Hart announced Monday that West Hartford Town Hall has closed temporarily as officials determine how best to modify operations to ensure the safe continued delivery of essential municipal services.
All Town Hall offices closed at noon Monday, and will tentatively reopen on Thursday, March 19, with essential staff only. Further information about how departments will be operating will be provided as soon as those details are made available.
“We ask that our residents remain patient as we consider how best to deliver our services safely, Cantor told We-Ha.com. “We are doing all will can and will continue to communicate through as many channels as possible to keep everyone informed.”
Helen Rubino-Turco, director of Social Services and Leisure Services, said deliveries to the Food Pantry can still be accommodated even though the building is closed. On Monday, donations can be brought to the side door near the flagpole, to the right of the main door. Tents will be set up outside on Tuesday and Wednesday where much-needed donations can be dropped off.
Monday’s move comes on the heels of Cantor’s declaration of a State of Emergency Sunday night, and Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive orders and decrees that followed a regional announcement regarding operations made Monday morning in concert with the governors of New York and New Jersey.
Hart said in a statement Monday, ”Given the growing concern regarding community spread of this virus, I have made the decision to close Town Hall to the public beginning at noon today. Town employees that are not critical to operations will be notified that they should not report to work during this temporary closure. Over the next several days, our management team will develop an operations plan for the re-opening of Town Hall later this week.”
West Hartford is in the midst of its budget process, with upcoming hearings scheduled for the Board of Education and town budgets over the next several weeks. Hart did not have specifics yet, but said he and Cantor, and other officials are looking at options “to conduct those meetings in virtual mode and still allow public participation.” Thankfully technology can facilitate that, he said, and further information will be forthcoming.
Closing Town Hall itself follows a decision made on March 12, 2020, to imposed a two-week closure of West Hartford Public Schools, Veterans Memorial Skating Rink, Cornerstone Aquatics Center, West Hartford Senior Center, Elmwood Senior Center, Elmwood Community Center, Hillcrest Area Neighborhood Outreach Center, and the three libraries.
“I don’t think people are seeing the severity of this,” Hart told We-Ha.com, but he is hopeful that new measures will make a difference.
“We saw a lot of activity over the weekend,” Hart said, with restaurants that typically have a light night crowd as packed as usual. That activity will be halted by the governor’s mandate Monday that restaurants and bars limit operations to take-out or delivery only.
“We can do it,” said Hart. While it may feel like a self-imposed quarantine, the likes of which have not been seen since maybe World War II, this is a good time to have family time, and the outdoors is not off limits, as long as large groups are avoided.
“We appreciate the impact this is having on our business community,” Hart said. The mayor and other officials are having discussions at the state and federal level regarding relief packages, but as of now, “the immediate need is taking the necessary steps to prevent community spread.”
Officials are concerned about the medical facility being overwhelmed, especially in the denser cities like Hartford, and the immediate priority of public officials is to prevent that.
In addition to using the Town of West Hartford website, residents can continue to contact Town Hall offices with questions at the following phone numbers:
West Hartford Library (serving as Communications Center) – (860) 561-6970
Assessment – (860) 561-7414
Building Inspection – (860) 561-7530
Community Development – (860) 561-7520
Engineering – (860) 561-7540
Financial Services – (860) 561-7460
Fire Marshal – (860) 561-8320
Food Pantry – (860) 561-7580
Human Resources – (860) 561-7480
Information Technology – (860) 561-6636
Mayor’s Office – (860) 561-7440
Parking Tickets – (860) 561-7475
Permits – (860) 561-7530
Planning – (860) 561-7555
Recreation (Leisure Services) – (860) 561-7510
Registrar of Voters – (860) 561-7450
Schools Administration – (860) 561-6600
Social Services – (860) 561-7561
Tax Office – (860) 561-7474
Town Clerk – (860) 561-7430
Town Manager – (860) 561-7440
Town Hall (Main Number) – (860) 561-7500
Zoning – (860) 561-7555
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