West Hartford Town Hall offices will not physically reopen this week after closing Monday, but rather will operate virtually for the foreseeable future.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford Town Hall will resume operations Thursday, but the public will not be able to have access to the building and rather will be able to receive services virtually, either online at www.westhartfordct.gov or via telephone, Mayor Shari Cantor and Town Manager Matt Hart said late Wednesday.
The move to keep the physical premises closed to the public is to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the virtual operation of the town’s government will continue for an indefinite period of time.
Town Hall closed at noon on Monday. Hart said that over the past several days, following the increased spread of coronavirus, directors have been working to develop plans so operations and the continued delivery of services will be able to take place while the Town Hall building itself is closed.
He said that other municipalities throughout the country have moved to virtual mode as well.
“Like their counterparts in many cities and towns nationwide, West Hartford employees are conducting their work remotely with only a few staff members physically working at Town Hall,” Hart said. “In keeping with federal and state directives, it’s vitally important that we each do our part to maintain social distancing during this critical stage of COVID-19.”
Many residents already access Town Hall services online.
“West Hartford’s website is a great place to start if you are in search for applications, resources, information, phone numbers, and emails,” Cantor said in a statement. “We encourage residents to continue doing business with us virtually. We are here to help.”
At this point some functions cannot be performed virtually, such as building inspections, Hart said. Other than in the event of emergencies, building inspections will be temporarily suspended, he said.
What can be done virtually, however, is extensive, and being expanded. “We’re waiting for additional guidance from the state regarding our ability to transact more and more business online,” Hart said.
The Noah Webster branch of the library on South Main Street, along with the other library branches, is closed to the public but serves as the town’s communications center and is staffed with town employees who will “answer general questions and to direct you to where you need to go,” Cantor said.
Staff at the communications center can be reached at 860-561-6990, Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.
In addition to Town Hall and the libraries, other facilities that are closed and will remain closed until further notice include include Rockledge Golf Course, West Hartford Public Schools, Veterans Memorial Skating Rink, Cornerstone Aquatics Center, West Hartford Senior Center, Elmwood Senior Center, Elmwood Community Center, and the Hillcrest Area Neighborhood Outreach Center.
The West Hartford Police Department and West Hartford Fire Department facilities are open, and Hart said that employees are being kept separated to the extent possible. The Records Division is closed but requests can be made via email at [email protected]. Roll call is now being conducted using social distancing.
“We need to keep our workforce healthy, and we want to be able to handle more medical calls,” said Hart. “We know they will be coming.”
Public Works is currently continuing normal seasonal outdoor work, Hart said.
To reach specific Town Hall offices, residents can also call the following numbers:
- 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
- School 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
“We appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience these closures are causing,” town officials said in a news release.
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