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See what’s open, still restricted as Nederland begins life after quarantine

NEDERLAND — Nederland City Hall services, municipal court and the city’s pool are planning their reopening on staggered dates in June amid COVID-19 concerns.

The decisions were made with input from department heads and supervisors and were reviewed by the administration and city council, taking into account the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, city manager Chris Duque said.

Homer E. Nagel Public Safety Complex

The building houses police, fire and Central Dispatch and contacting of police officers will continue to be done through initial phone call or via the phone in the rear of the building, according to information from the city.

Duque said this method of contacting police has been going on for the past few weeks and is working well. The police and fire chiefs have recommended continuing this for a while.

Beginning June 3 the municipal court will operate on appointment only court procedures, which will be further detailed when contacting the court clerk.

There will be social distancing of seats in the courtroom and chairs have been taken out.

Having an appointment means only the affected parties will be in the room. The municipal court sees cases such as speeding tickets, complaints over dogs and code violations.

Duque said instructions will be given to those who need to be in court.

All visitors will be required to wear a mask in the building. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided.

The reason, he said, is first responders are one of the most vital groups to the city and are essential employees. Their building needs to be as safe and clean as possible.

This building is the only city building where wearing a mask is required.

Visitors allowed in the building will be limited to those necessary for service to be provided.

The public restroom will be disinfected twice a day; hand sanitizer will be available at the entrances of the building.

All lobby furniture has been removed.

Nederland City Hall

Beginning June 1, visits to city hall for vital statistics, human resources department, public record or contacting the city manager will be completed by appointment only with no rotary services at this time.

Duque believes this will make for a more efficient operation of the services.

“Before the coronavirus, some would come in and were sometimes sitting for a while because the clerk was busy doing something else,” he said. “Now, if you say you can be there at 8:30, it will be ready at 8:30. It will be faster. With job applications, it will be the same process. It should not be a major issue — a slow transition to fully opening the building in the near future.”

Visitors are encouraged to wear a mask in the building but it is not required. The public restroom will be disinfected twice a day; hand sanitizer will be available at the entrances of the building.

All lobby furniture has been removed.

All payments and utility billing related business will continue to be made via the city hall drive-thru. Online bill pay will be available as well.

In-person city council meetings will resume June 8. City council meetings with public attendance will resume July 13.

Nederland Swimming Pool is set to open June 12 at 25 percent capacity, meaning 50 to 70 patrons. Reservations are required. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Bob Henson Building

The Henson Building opens June 1 for visits for code enforcement, building permit and permit-related issues.

Visitors allowed in the building would be limited to only those necessary for service to be provided.

Payments for building permits will be made at city hall drive through or night drop.

Nederland Service Center

Beginning June 1, visits to the building for public works issues will be completed by appointment only.

All visitors are encouraged to wear a mask and only visitors allowed in the building would be limited to those that are necessary for service to be provided.

Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance and all lobby furniture has been removed.

Protocols for these buildings will be reassessed June 22.

Effie and Hughes Public Library

The library will continue curbside service and virtual story time.

The location will continue to stay closed to foot traffic.

“In a library there are so many touch points, book shelves, computers and the amount of things that can be touched,” Duque said. “We are not prepared to keep it all clean. We have one custodian position for that building, and that person resigned before coronavirus.”

Hence the city is looking to hire someone for this custodial position, he said.

Crews are busy getting Nederland Swimming Pool ready for patrons for the upcoming opening date of June 12. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Parks and Recreation, parks and pool

Careful consideration for the safety of employees and the community have been thought out by leaders as they looked at parks, the recreation center and the pool, and it comes down to this:

Parks

  • Benches, small table areas are available.
  • Pavilions and public restrooms remain closed until a later date.
  • Playground and other recreation equipment structures remain closed until CDC guidelines can be met.

Duque said playgrounds are a topic of discussion, but it all comes down to the fact that Nederland, like a lot of cities, does not have staff to keep up with disinfection of playground equipment.

“And that we have no staff to enforce social distancing, and the CDC is still wanting people to limit to groups of 10,” he said. “I don’t see how that’s possible, to follow the guidance to keep people 6 feet apart. That is a discussion that is still ongoing.”

Nederland Mayor Don Albanese said he hopes to see the playground equipment opening soon and also looks forward to getting back to having council meetings together, masks or not.

Recreation center

  • The recreation enter remains closed until a later date.

Albanese said leaders were worried about opening the recreation center due to people playing sports such as basketball and making body contact.

Pool

Open to the public on June 12 at 25 percent capacity meaning 50 to 70 patrons.

  • Open swim divided into two 3½ blocks of time; 12 to 3:30 p.m. and 4 to 7:30 p.m.; utilization reservation process for use with priority given to Nederland residents begins June 11. Five people per reservation.
  • Implement social distancing on pool deck and pool patrol distancing.
  • Rockwall and water slide closed until CDC guidelines in place, no pool parties until after July 10, no swim lessons this season, no senior swim this season and no pool passes this season.
  • Restrooms disinfected during cleaning time.
  • Protocols to be reassessed as they receive updated CDC or state guidance.

“For us, the pool has always been the busiest in the first six weeks of the summer and dies down some in the middle of July when kids go to band camp, football camp, church camps,” Duque said.

Going to the pool hinges on getting reservations and staff will confirm residency once you check in — this means you can’t just walk up and gain entrance.

Some things that have been talked about but not officially decided is keeping a logbook in case any contact tracing needs to be done after the fact and the person lists the pool as a place they had been. This would be easier for health department officials to trace backwards.

But as of now this is not a confirmed protocol.

“We have a lot of details and procedures we have to finalize before we get to June 12,” Duque said.

Pool parties pose a unique problem. The CDC says no mingling of groups of 10 or more and very few pool parties have less than 10 people.

There is also the issue of the changing area.

“People can come in already dressed and leave a little wet,” Duque said. “They would probably need to bring in some extra towels to sit on in the car on the way home. We will probably change this rule if we can see that it will work. There are not a lot of touch points in the changing area.”

Albanese said he is anxious about the further opening of the city but has noted people following recommendations. At a trip to a restaurant he saw customers spaced out with reserved tables in between for social distancing. The waiters all had on masks, he said.

Duque said the overall goal is to reopen safely.

“The pandemic is new to us. It’s new to everybody,” he said, adding they are dong the best they can to make the best decisions for employees and the community.

Persons with questions can call the city manager’s office at 723-1503.