Updated Town Hall Operations

Public Buildings will re-open on June 8th! Updated guidance below.

Town Operations Re-Opening Plan

The Town of Billerica will begin the opening process of all public buildings on June 8th in conjunction with the start of Phase 2 of the Massachusetts re-opening plan. On March 17th the day of the first positive COVID-19 case in Town all buildings were closed to the public. The Town moved to a skeleton crew to prevent additional exposure and only kept essential personnel in the buildings. The Town of Billerica as of 5/28 has had 485 confirmed COVID-19 cases. 388 people have recovered and 29 people have passed away. As of 5/28 the current 7 day average of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Billerica has fluctuated between 3-5. Currently we are at our lowest 7 day average since April 6th and we are continuing to trend down. The recent high of 13 cases was due to data reconciliation. At this time we feel confident that reopening public buildings is safe for the staff, and the residents of Billerica.

The Town has also implemented all mandatory workplace safety standards for reopening included in the Massachusetts Reopening Plan.

This includes establishing adequate social distancing protocols, requiring face coverings or masks in public areas, providing handwashing capabilities throughout the workplace, providing regular sanitization of high touch areas, providing training for employees regarding the social distancing and hygiene protocols, and employee temperature screenings.

Town Hall – 

Town Hall has made multiple changes throughout the building to make it a safe and accessible to staff and residents. All offices will now be physically open to the public. The Town will be requiring face masks to be worn in all public areas in the building. Signage is posted throughout Town Hall indicating these rules. The Town has also installed sneeze guards in every office at the reception counters.

Offices that are heavy traffic areas also will have please wait here signs and maintain distance markers on the ground. This will dissuade people from congregating in offices and crowding each other while waiting in line. In offices where it is feasible like the Tax Collectors office it will be a one way in and a one way out doorways.

Our Facilities staff will also spend time each day cleaning and sanitizing high traffic areas. An electrostatic fogger was also purchased to disinfect on a regular basis.

Meeting rooms will continue to be locked and public meetings will still not take place in Town Hall. The Governor has yet to provide phase two guidance on gathering limits. Currently it is less than 10 people. Once guidance is provided physical meetings will be reexamined.

All Town Hall services will be available as of June 8th and the Credit Union will reopen.

Voting on June 6th 

Residents have been continually encouraged to vote by mail.  This has proven highly affective, as of this writing over 1,800 people have requested ballots by mail.  The polling locations are the same as they have been previously.  However many social distancing protocols have been established that will make the experience a little different for the voter.  All voters are required to wear face coverings.  Only three voters will be allowed in the polling place at one time. If there are more than 3 people waiting to vote they will be required to queue outside the building.  Queuing areas will be marked instructing voters to remain six feet apart and directional flow arrows will guide voters through the process.  Voting locations with two precincts will have the precinct voting areas set up in two different rooms – likely the cafeteria and the gymnasium.  Sneeze guards will be set up at all poll worker stations and all poll workers will be required to wear masks.  Voting booths will be sanitized throughout the day as well as pens used for voting.  Voter turnout is expected to be light due to the extraordinary vote by mail activity.

Council on Aging – Reopening Plan

Continuing Services through Pandemic

IMPACT:  MARCH 16 - MAY 30

While the physical building has been closed key operations and several services have continued and were expanded during the pandemic

OUTREACH / SOCIAL WORK

Care calls to vulnerable seniors

Leveraging local volunteers for food & pharmacy drop offs

Addressing mental health issues that have arisen during the pandemic,  some with Sgt. Tara Connors

Support of family caregivers

LIMITED BCOA VAN TRANSPORTATION SERVICES

One patron at a time taken to essential medical appointments and grocery shopping

Drivers using PPE


MEALS ON WHEELS (Partnership with Elder Services of Merrimack Valley)

Distribution grown by 25 %

Drivers screened (temperature and questions)

 

WEEKLY CARE CALLS

The pandemic environment calls for new approaches and strategies to address social isolation of older adults

More than 100 calls made by all staff members

Detection of deep sadness & worry referred to Outreach for follow-up

NEW FOOD PROGRAM

Launched in conjunction with School Food Program to support largely low-income older adults tracked by Outreach who are in danger of malnutrition and hunger during Covid 19.

All Staff activity led by Outreach

Drop and Drive to end by June 25th

75 multi-bag packages per week has grown to 90 per week

Director aggressively fundraising to cover $500-600 weekly costs. Receipts to date: 

$4.1K via grants (Greater Lowell Community Foundation , Stoneham and Enterprise Banks, Fallon Health)

$500 from Friends of COA

$800 from COA Staff

$300 from COA Board

$4.5K from other donations, including patrons

Packing bags donated by Lahey Health System (400), SalemFive Bank (200) & Market Basket in Billerica center (600)

 

WORK AREAS – MARCH and APRIL

New Food  Program

All staff Care Calls

Outreach case processing and wellness checks via telephone

Fundraising / grant writing

Produced /distributed1400, 8-pager newsletter

Respite Companion Program

Zoom Programs

Social Time (4/18 & 4/30)

BATV Programs

Exercise with Joe Fish (Started 4/13)

Chair Aerobics with Pat Fino (Started 4/28)     

June 8th – Gently Stepping Forward

FACILITY Readiness on All Levels

MODEST Array of Offerings

AARP Tax-Aide Launch

Tax Work Off implementation staging

Maximize Virtual Programming

Wrap Up Food Program

Maximize Meals on Wheels

Increase Transportation volume with strict protocols

Relaunch Respite Program with training for Companions

June 29th - Center Reopens CAUTIOUSLY

Offer Classes / Activities with maximum of 10 participants

Max 2 sessions per day

Space limitations & instructors’ consent gate ability to offer multiple weekly sessions 

Begin with free programs as an online payment system is being designed with Treasurer and approved by Town Manager

Maximize outdoor programming where possible – Tai Chi

Fitness Room use by 30 minutes appointments only

One person in space per hour 

4-6 users per day, strictly monitored for sanitation

Gift Shop closed

No activities that cannot meet 6 foot social distancing requirements

Bingo, Men’s Group, Blood Pressure Checks or Games

All furniture promoting socialization cordoned off, all flyers removed from walls

All computers in Computer Center disengaged

No use of Sign-in kiosks – online registration where possible

Patrons escorted to sessions and must sign out and leave building upon completion of activity – no opportunity for socialization in open spaces in building


Launch outside programs on safe, flat parking lot area with strict COVID protocols,  constant oversight by program staff and use of designated lobby bathrooms by participants


Horseshoes, knitting in small groups, Walking Group and activities that can be designed by instructors for safety, social distancing and occurrence flexibility to address weather concerns

 

The following represent place holders. As the Aging Network kicks in with guidance and we have carefully studied 4-6 weeks of operations these will be updated

August

Reach 25% of programming in building

September

Reach 33% of programming in building


Town Recreation Facilities Re-Opening Plan

*All recommendations have been suggested from various researched guidelines from MA, MRPA, and other resources. 

Recommended Field Re-Opening Schedule:

June 8 - Allow for passive field use.  No organized play or field permits issued at this time.

June 8 - 21 - Use these two weeks to work closely with youth sports organizations to develop and implement safety plans and procedures for each user group.

June 22 - Resume field permitting to user groups (Youth Sports Organizations and School Department only).  Fields will only be available for practices, following safety guidelines.

June 29 - User groups are allowed to start playing games, following safety guidelines.

*The above dates are dependent on MA Phase 2 and 3 commencements, and may be adjusted.


Field Use Guidelines:

  • Permits will only be provided to our local Youth Sports Organizations (Softball, Little League, Soccer, Lacrosse, Pop Warner, School Department) starting on June 22.  No outside/private permits will be issued.

No games permitted until Phase 3 begins.  Practices only.  (stretching, cardio, soft toss batting practice, etc)

Keep gathering size to recommended number (currently max of 10)

No sharing of equipment, this includes: gloves, bats, helmets, balls, etc.

Coaches and players must wear masks at all times (player removal during running drills is okay with proper social distancing)

No crowds allowed.  Parents must drop off or remain in car.

Use of bleachers/benches is prohibited.

Starting in Phase 3, with parental permission, leagues may record and/or livestream games online.

No use of dugouts or team benches.  Players will distance themselves and their equipment along the fence line/designated area assigned.

All practices must be time staggered to allow at least a 15 minute window to avoid overlapping teams.

No team huddles or post practice “hands in” or high fives.

League should assign a Safety Director for each location to ensure safety procedures and guidelines are being followed.

Leagues must provide proper PPE for players and coaches.  This includes masks, hand sanitizers, and pre-practice temperature checks.

Players should hand sanitize before practice, every water break, and at the conclusion of practice.

Town will create and install signage at all parks and playgrounds with Town safety guidelines.

Town is implementing a moratorium on hosting any youth sports tournaments or travel play for 2020.  Billerica fields should be used for In-Town programs only.

At this time, restrooms or porta-potties will not be provided at fields.  This may be reconsidered at a later phase.

User groups will need to put in place procedures on how they will safely operate concession stands and gain approval from the Town prior to operating.

Trash barrels will be provided at fields.  Please make sure to properly dispose of all trash.

Water Fountains will remain off.

Park Walking/Hiking Trails – Remain open

  • Visitors should maintain social distancing guidelines of at least six feet.
  • If unable to maintain social distancing of six feet, users should wear masks or vacate area.
  • Users should move aside and leave room for others to pass.  Runners and cyclists should alert other users when approaching and wait for others to step aside before safely passing.
  • After visiting public spaces, users should wash or sanitize their hands.

 

Basketball Courts/Tennis Courts/Pickleball Courts – Opening June 8th

  • Users should sanitize hands before and after play.
  • Users should maintain social distance guidelines of at least six feet.
  • No sharing of equipment.
  • Basketball users should engage in non-contact play only – no pick-up games, organized games, or tournaments. 
  • Tennis and Pickleball should limit to singles play only.
  • Users waiting to utilize a court should wait outside the fence to ensure proper social distancing.

Dog Park – Opening June 8th

  • All visitors and their dogs should adhere to social distancing guidelines of at least six feet.
  • All visitors must maintain enough control over their pets via leash or voice control to comply with social distancing guidelines.
  • All visitors should wear a mask or face covering when unable to maintain social distance.
  • Water bowls will not be provided or allowed within the park.
  • All visitors should follow best practices and sanitize hands before and after visiting the park.

Playgrounds – Opening June 8th  

Hand sanitizer stations will be installed at the entrance of all playgrounds.

All visitors should sanitize hands before and after visiting the playground.

All visitors should adhere to social distancing guidelines of at least six feet.

All visitors over age 2 should wear a mask or face covering if unable to maintain social distance.


Miccozzi Beach – Closed until further notice

  • Developing re-opening plan, and expect to open in later phase.


Splash Pad – Closed indefinitely

Would not be possible to provide adequate social distancing measures or population control.


Reopening Plan for Billerica Public Library

MA Govt. Phase 1:  Limited industries resume with severe restrictions

Library Phase 1 Part 1:  Staff return and prepare facilities to support limited operations.   Building cleaned, stocked with cleaning supplies and PPE, protective barriers installed, staff and patron safety protocols in place including social distancing, wearing of masks and cleaning in compliance with local health board. Book drops have been opened and book returns are quarantined for 72 hours. We have developed tailored service work flows to minimize contact for basic library operations like, curbside service, book returns, book drop procedures, and book checkout. During this phase and the phases following, the library continues to serve the community with the combination of virtual and remote versions of programming, access to downloadable and or streaming e books, temporary library cards, remote reference and technology which have been provided remotely since March 16th, when actual building closed.


Library Phase 1 Part 2:  Governor’s guidelines allowed for curbside beginning May 25.  Curbside service began May 27th.  Basically a patron places a hold on a book or calls the library and asks for specific titles or subjects and within 24 -48 hours the patron is contacted for an appointment time in which to pick up the books.  Special parking spots have been designated and patron calls when they are at library and staff brings out the books, wearing gloves and masks and places them in the trunk. This service is being used heavily by patrons.  Visits to our homebound patrons program resuming – using contact less approach if requested.

MA Govt: Phase 2 (June 8th):  Additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits. 

Library Phase 2:  Soft opening and limited services. 

The Library will open for people to come in, choose own books and leave.  Suggested time limits for visits are 15 -20 minutes due to limits on building capacity. Building capacity will be at 25%.  The Library will be open to public Monday – Thursday 9-7 and Friday and Saturday 9-3.  Summer Saturdays hours will be 9-12 which will begin June 20th. Safety, social distancing and Covid-19 related policies will be posted throughout.  Staff will monitor the doors, one way in, one way out and ask the covid questions as well as ensure patrons are wearing a mask and using hand sanitizing stations. Limited computer use (15 minutes) will be available as well as printing in reference area only.  All puzzles, toys, games, stuffed animals and ipads will be removed from the children’s area.  Study areas and rooms will be off limits as well as the lounge areas and the meeting room and conference room.  Services will be regularly evaluated and if something is not working we are prepared to change. 

MA Govt. Phase 3: (Projected June 29th) Additional industries resume operations with guidance.

Library Phase 3:  Expanded service and adaption to the current health climate. 

Based on improving pandemic conditions as reported by the state and town the library will expand building access and library services.  According to state guidelines we will increase building capacity, and return to pre pandemic library hours for public.  Increase use of public computers for scheduled limited amounts of time and consider in person programming for 10 people or less as long as they can be socially distant.  Based on emerging science and recommendations from town, state and federal government we will make necessary adjustments to social distancing protocols, staff use of PPE, quarantining requirements for materials and permissible crowd-size rules.

MA Govt. Phase 4:  Development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of “new normal.”

Library Phase 4:  Near full resuming of services. 

Based on improving pandemic conditions as reported by the town and state government the library will expand to the new normal of full services.  The hours open will be expanded to pre pandemic if this hasn’t already occurred.  Building capacity will be at 100 percent.  Library staff will be allowed to return to their original work areas.  Study areas, study rooms and the meeting and conference rooms will be open to the public again.  In –person programming will begin for all ages.  We will follow any remaining recommendations from town, state and federal sources and make adjustments to social distancing requirement, staff use of PPE, quarantining materials requirements and permissible crowd-size rules. A service contingency plan will be in place to prepare for a recurrence of Coronavirus in preparation of having to return to limited/remote services if needed.

Prior to June 8th Operation Guidance

Updates to Town Operations

Most Town operations are already fully available online, over the phone, or by email. If you don’t see something listed below it does not mean it is not available. The list below is changes from normal operations. If you don’t see something that you need done please contact Clancy in the Town Managers Office by email cmain@town.billerica.ma.us or by phone at (978) 671 -0942 to facilitate the request.

Board of Health Operations as of 03/26/2020

Concerns with Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Public Health Nurse is continuing to monitor the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) within the community, if you have a question concerning this matter please reach out to Christine West at cwest@town.billerica.ma.us or telephone at 978-671-0932.  If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 please contact your primary care physician or visit an urgent care facility to get medical help.

The Board of Health will make every effort to continue to issue permits, perform inspections, and answer any questions from the public.  Please email any questions, complaints, completed applications to billericaboh@town.billerica.ma.us.   All Board of Health inquiries please call 978-671-0931 or 978-671-0960.

Town Meeting and Town Election

The Board of Selectmen has acted to move the Spring 2020 Town Meeting from May 5, 2020 to June 16, 2020.  The Town Election is also being moved to from April 4, 2020 to June 6, 2020. The 2020 Spring Warrant public hearing for the Finance Committee is still scheduled for April 7, 2020 at 7:30PM online at the following link: https://www.town.billerica.ma.us/866/Online-Public-Hearing.  Anyone absentee ballots cast up to the time of the change of the election date will be counted in the Annual Town Election.

Veterans Services

  • Current Chapter 115 recipients should expect to receive benefits by mail on time.
  • If you have a receipt to submit for reimbursement please mail the original copies to the Department of Veteran Services and they will be processed promptly.
  • Please understand the office will be staffed during normal business hours although all correspondence will need to be conducted by phone, email or fax.
  • All other meetings are to be rescheduled.  Thank you for your patience and we are still here to serve you. 

Library 

  • The library may be closed, but you still have access to downloadable and/or streaming e-books, audiobooks, music, videos, comic books, and magazines, both through the Billerica Public Library and Boston Public Library.

For more information please visit their website - https://billericalibrary.org/featured-events/closingresources/

Wastewater:

Assessor’s Office

Please send any correspondence to assessors@town.billerica.ma.us or call (978) 671 - 0971

  • Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Inquiries and Abatements:  Please scan and email or fax to provide documentation as to what happened to the plate (i.e., plate cancellation, new registration if transferred), and what happened to the vehicle (i.e., Bill of Sale, Total Loss Letter, Junk Yard Receipt, etc.).  We will process your abatement and call or email you with the adjusted amount.
  • For Real Estate Inquiries: Please click on the Assessors’ Office portion of the Town Website and click on “Property Assessments” for the Town’s on line assessment database.  There will be no interior inspections until further notice.  Asst. Assessors/Data Collectors will be conducting exterior measurements and inspections.
  • Abutters Lists: Request Forms can be mailed, emailed or faxed.  Your list will be available in 5-10 working days.  There is a charge of $2 per abutter, and you will be contacted with the amount due once complete.  Please mail or drop off a check in the green mailbox located on the side of building.  Once your check is received, we will mail the completed list to you.
  • Senior/Veteran/CPA Real Estate Exemptions: All applications and instructions can be found online under Assessors’ Documents or contact the office to have a copy sent to you.

Tax Collector and Treasurers Office 

  • Payment of Bills: Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, Real Estate, Personal Property Tax and Water/Sewer Bills, please utilize the Green mailbox on the Good Street side of Town Hall. We will be processing payments daily. If you require a receipt, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.  Also, please note that we do not accept payments over the phone.
  • A second option for payment is our online program. The Town of Billerica’s online platform will allow you to pay through EFT (electronic funds transfer) directly debiting your checking account ($0.40 per transaction) or with a credit card (2.95% fee). The online link is below: https://www.invoicecloud.com/portal/(S(wyieuvi1pnzqzazhlpiu0yng))/2/Site.aspx?G=c769a5e6-e348-40b4-a1ac-946582d2e5a2
  • If you have any questions pertaining to these payment methods please contact the Collector’s office at 978-671-0920. You may also email Elaine Russo at erusso@town.billerica.ma.us or me, John Clark at jclark@town.billerica.ma.us

Water Meters

  • All secondary meters will be on hold until Town Hall restrictions are lifted. If you need a primary meter to be installed by your plumber for new construction, please call the office at 978-671-1313 Option 4 to make arrangements for someone to bring curbside to you.

DPW

  • If you have anything to send to DPW, please put in an envelope and mark DPW, and place in the green bin on the parking lot side of the Town Hall. Or you can call (978) 671 – 1313.

Council on Aging 

The Council on Aging has made many changes due to the outbreak. Please refer to the website link that is here - https://www.town.billerica.ma.us/136/Council-on-Aging

Building Department 

With a ban on public access to Town Hall the Building Department will implement the following procedures in an effort to provide continuous service. We encourage all customers to utilize the Town’s website to obtain permit applications and other information that pertains to Building Department operations - https://www.town.billerica.ma.us/275/Building-Department-Documents

  • Building, Plumbing, Gas and Electrical permits can be submitted electronically. Send completed applications to buildingdept@town.billerica.ma.us (This is the preferred method).
  • Completed applications can also be submitted at Town Hall by dropping them in the GREEN drop off box located adjacent to the Handicap accessible entrance (Good St side). This box will be checked throughout the day.
  • If you have a large set of plans that will not fit in the drop box, please proceed to the Accessible Entrance of Town Hall (Good St side) and call the Building Department upon arrival 978-671-0959. We will provide you with further directions on how to submit your plans.
  • All inspections will continue as scheduled

Staff can be reached via email:

Mark LaLumiere Building Commissioner mlalumiere@town.billerica.ma.us

Olivia Canario Office Manager ocanario@town.billerica.ma.us

If you are picking up or paying a permit, please contact the Building Department at 978-671-0959. Staff will provide you with directions on how to obtain your permit.

Town Clerk

The Town Clerk’s Office will continue to handle recording of all births, deaths and marriages and will make arrangements to provide these documents when necessary.  This office will also continue to provide election services using electronic and U.S. Mail correspondence.  Please contact Sshult@town.billerica.ma.us

Conservation

The Conservation Department will make every effort continue to issue permits, perform inspections, and answer any questions from the public. Public Meetings will be moved to a virtual meeting platform.  Arrangements will be made to convey plans and applications.  Please Liz at Lells@town.billerica.ma.us