Several elected and other municipal officials in New Paltz discussed and took questions about transitioning from pandemic shutdown to whatever the new normal turns out to be via YouTube last Friday. While the multi-county region has hit five of seven metrics for beginning the four-phase reopening sequence laid out by the governor, the data points for hospitalizations and deaths have not decreased enough to begin that process.
Absent a vaccine or any evidence that surviving infection by this coronavirus confers immunity, social distancing and frequent hand-washing remain the best ways to minimize its spread. Residents are being strongly encouraged not to confront others about a perceived lack of social distance, or for not wearing masks, or otherwise violating such guidelines. Contact police or building inspectors, or file an anonymous report about the situation. As deputy mayor KT Tobin noted, it’s not always clear who is actually failing to comply. Chief Robert Lucchesi of the New Paltz police agreed, adding that well-meaning residents might unintentionally escalate an issue by attempting to enforce it themselves.
While governor Andrew Cuomo has approved the opening of public beaches, pools are likely to wait for phase four, which includes recreation and schools. Supervisor Neil Bettez acknowledged that Moriello Pool was “an important part of summer here in New Paltz,” but the best-case scenario would not see it opened until late July. Bettez said that limiting attendance to town residents is being considered as a way to limit occupancy.
Village officials are concerned about how property-tax bills coming due in June are actually paid. They are anticipating that there could be a $2.2 million shortfall in the budget this year. It’s a slightly different situation for the town. Taxes are due later, and when they are not paid the difference is made up from county funds. That, however, assumes that there are county funds available. As with most levels of government, the county budget must be balanced and the bills paid.
Construction will be part of the first phase of reopening, and one source of revenue for municipal governments is building permits. Village building inspector Cory Wirthmann wants anyone planning a project to contact his office soon, as it’s “not just going to be a free-for-all,” Contractors need to understand the new processes that will be in place.