City announces reopening plans

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — The City of Xenia is planning to reopen its offices in accordance with the state’s Responsible Restart Ohio plan announced this week.

In a video message shared on the city’s Facebook page, City Manager Brent Merriman said reopening facilities will be “a phased approach as the governor has laid out, rather than just a stroke of the pen that allows everything to go back to normal.”

Beginning Monday, May 4, city staff will resume a more regular schedule, but offices will remain closed to the public.

Beginning Monday, May 11, city offices will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. City officials are asking the public to allow elderly residents and those vulnerable to COVID-19 to have sole usage from 9-11 a.m.

“This was a suggestion that was made at the state level,” Merriman said, “And we think it’s a good idea.”

Offices will be closed Wednesdays to allow for deep cleaning, Merriman said.

Lobby areas inside city offices will have signage in place to mark the flow of traffic and social distancing. Under new guidelines from the state, city facilities must operate at 50 percent occupancy, Merriman said, which means the number of people allowed in the building will be reduced.

“We are still discussing exactly how we do that,” he said. “We are very reluctant to have someone standing at the door saying who can pass and who can’t. We may have to do that, we may not. We are exploring options for that. The key is that we want to be able to provide services in a way that keeps you, our citizens, safe, and keep our staff safe and are compliant with what the state ordered.”

When visiting city offices, residents will also see staff working in the front-line of customer service wearing a mask.

“We think it’s important to protect them, and to protect the general public,” Merriman said. Not all staff will be required to wear masks, only those who have face-to-face contact with the public on a regular basis.

While the City Administration Building and Justice Center will reopen on this timeline, Merriman said Xenia Municipal Court will release its reopening separately.

Merriman also extended the city’s state of emergency.

“That’s in large part to maintain funding opportunities for our community in response to the COVID-19,” Merriman said.

He touched on a few other city-related items.

— First Friday events in May and June have been canceled as well as the first Neighborhood Night Out event in May. The annual Fishing Derby will be postponed.

— No decision has been made regarding the annual Sonnycalb Fireworks Festival. Due to contracts with vendors and the fireworks provider, a decision will have to be made in the next two to three weeks on whether to continue with the festival, or to cancel it. The decision will depend on if the state relaxes the rules on how many people are allowed at gatherings.

“This festival is one of the biggest things that happens in Xenia,” Merriman said. “I’m just not sure yet that’s going to be lifted in time for us to have to make a decision.”

— City council meetings will remain closed to the public for the month of May, however, the public may still submit input for the meetings electronically and watch the meetings live on the city’s YouTube page.

— Parks remain open, however playground equipment is still closed.

“We may not as a staff … necessarily like all these regulations,” Merriman said. “But we do have an obligation to make sure that we are following what those above us are issuing. We don’t have lateral control of all of this. We are adjusting here locally based on what is being given to us at the governor’s level.”

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.