By PJ Ferguson
The Whitehall Town Board decided at its meeting last Wednesday to close the rec center and Skenesborough Park.
“The park is closed to any gatherings of 10 people or more until further notice,” declared town supervisor John Rozell.
Signs will be erected and police will be notified to break-up any gatherings that do occur.
Later in the meeting, the board approved a request to reserve the park for a wedding in August, but noted that it is dependent on whether the park re-opens by that time.
The board also voted unanimously to keep compensating the four recreation employees while the COVID-19 pandemic prevents them from working.
Rozell averaged out each employee’s hours and will pay them based off that average.
This move mirrors most municipalities’ response to the virus, still paying employees while they are out of work.
“It’s not their fault it’s closed,” said Rozell, with councilman Timothy Kingsley making the motion to keep compensating them.
After a long discussion, it was determined that the town highway department will continue to operate with the two-men crew that works under highway superintendent Louie Pratt.
This move came at the request of Pratt who felt he could delegate tasks to separate his crew and had concerns about sending them home and them contracting the virus elsewhere.
“They shut Telescope down,” Pratt said, “Where do you think those 250 people are?”
Rozell revealed that a highway worker for the town of Fort Edward was “pulled into testing and could be quarantined,” and if so, “Fort Edward just lost their whole highway crew.”
“That is a reason to keep things separate,” said Rozell.
Rozell asked if this would be allowed per the workers’ union contract.
“You can take it right to the bathroom with ya,” Pratt responded, “under this circumstance it doesn’t mean anything to me. My guys don’t want to go home.”
The board ultimately decided to leave the decision to Pratt’s discretion.
With consultation from the highway superintendent, the nearby town of Dresden decided to send their highway crew home for the next two weeks in response to the virus.
In other town-related closure news, Whitehall town and village court is canceled for the next 45 days, according to justices Thomas Nichols and Robert Putorti Jr.
Due payments can be left in the drop box outside the Municipal Center or paid online.
New court dates will be set when regular operations resume, and those already scheduled will not be penalized for their absence.