THE CURRENT SITUATION
We've been at it for a year.
A year ago today the Town of Pittsford’s COVID-19 shutdown plan took effect. Everywhere the pandemic has changed things for us all, right down to the details of daily life. Through it all, Pittsford's residents, our community organizations, our valued municipal partners – especially the School District and the Village – and our outstanding Town workforce, pulled together to carry on under unprecedented circumstances. As a community we’ve persevered. As individuals we've come to grips with the new reality and have held ourselves personally responsible to ourselves and to others, by wearing masks, staying at home in the early days and then keeping appropriate physical distance. As the pandemic progressed we've worked together to help our neighbors – delivering masks to those in need, holding food drives, coming up with creative and safe ways to recognize milestones, honor achievements, patronize local businesses and gather together to celebrate and encourage our hope for the future.
Here at Town Hall, we adapted Town services to accommodate the pandemic's' disruptions. Our Family Drive-in Movie Nights and Food Truck Wednesdays replaced some traditional Town events whose cancellation we couldn't avoid. Careful planning yielded safe ways to offer programs and events through our Library and Spiegel Community Center as well. As conditions allow, we’ll continue to expand access to facilities, programs, services and events.
Our partner, the Village government, adapted successfully as well. During a year in which businesses everywhere were closing daily, an unprecedented six new business opened up in Pittsford Village. Thank you, Mayor Corby, your Trustees and your staff.
And our matchless teachers and leaders in our Pittsford Central School District have accomplished the seemingly impossible on a nearly daily basis in keeping schooling going, and safely, throughout the past year. A brilliant example of perseverance and selfless public service in the face of seemingly overwhelming challenges.
With the arrival of vaccines, the situation now gradually changes. Restaurants and businesses can increase their capacity. The President spoke the other day about July 4 as a target for a national reopening, a much-needed, and most welcome, note of hope and optimism. More people are eligible for vaccination – and are getting vaccinated. It appears we're on the right path.
We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we're still in the tunnel. Make no mistake about it. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough.
Especially as the weather warms it can be tempting to think we can forget about COVID precautions. We can't. Many folks, probably most at this point, remain unvaccinated. The potential for spreading COVID-19 to those not yet protected is still a real threat. Please remember this. Wear you mask when in proximity to others outside of your immediate family. Maintain a safe distance from others when in public. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. According to the CDC these basic precautions apply whether you've been vaccinated or not. Large public gatherings are still not permitted, according to State guidelines and CDC advice. When you go out for that walk on the Canal Path on a sunny afternoon, please remember that sunshine doesn't stop the virus, so please don't behave as if it does. I promise you, once it's safe to do things normally, my entire Town staff and I will be happy to celebrate with you!
For your reference, I’ve put together a timeline of the significant efforts and updates of the past year related to the Town’s COVID-19 response. You can see it below. This barely scratches the surface of all of the work and effort that the Town and all in the community have done in the past 12 months as we rose to the occasion, but it will give you a basic overview.
As we reflect on all we’ve accomplished together as a community since this day a year ago, we hold in our hearts and our thoughts all those who've succumbed to the virus and those whose lives have been forever changed by it.
Town of Pittsford COVID-19 Response and Updates to date:
The Town shared via its eNews and website links to County and CDC information regarding the outbreak of a new respiratory disease caused by the COVID-19 virus.
I attended the County’s COVID-19 briefing and received the latest advice on suggested precautions regarding the virus and its potential spread. Town senior staff and our Emergency Management Coordinator and I continued to monitor advice and information from County, State and Federal health agencies.
We held an Emergency Preparedness Meeting comprised of all Town Department Heads, the Town’s Emergency Management Coordinator, the Town’s head of Building Maintenance, Village Mayor Bob Corby and the Village Clerk. The group reviewed and discussed instructions to employees, and reviewed and finalized the Town’s COVID-19 Response Plan. We implemented the Plan’s provisions immediately and posted it on the Town’s COVID-19 response and information web page: www.townofpittsford.org/covid-19info.
Initiated large scale Emergency Services Coordination among the Town, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Pittsford Fire Department, Pittsford Ambulance, Brighton Fire Department and East Rochester Department.
We sent our special edition eNews issue focusing on COVID-19 updates and information, the first of many sent.
Held my scheduled Supervisor Saturday Informational Open House at the Pittsford Community Library, following all recommended health protocols, in order to answer questions from the public and provide updates related to the pandemic.
Made the decision to close the Pittsford Community Library and the Spiegel Community Pittsford Center until further notice, effective immediately. Recreation Staff began check-ins with our Senior Center participants and began discussions about process and timing for making the County’s Senior Nutrition meals available. Announced that Town Hall remained open, with business conducted by mail, phone, email and drop-slot as well as by appointment if necessary.
Began promotion of Pittsford Food Cupboard services as available to all.
The Town Board voted to implement our Pandemic Time Bank. A special provision for Town employees, the Pandemic Time Bank allowed for staff sick with the virus, or confined because of exposure to it, or home to care for children because of school closures, to use paid time rather than depleting their sick time or vacation time.
At this point we began as well our campaign to support local bars and restaurants, providing a list, courtesy of the Pittsford Chamber of Commerce, of those open for takeaway and delivery.
In accordance with Governor Cuomo’s communication to municipal leaders, effective at the end of the day, the Town reduced its on-site workforce by more than the 50% reduction urged by the Governor. Some continue to work, from home.
The Highway Department, Parks Department, Sewer Department and Maintenance Department remained fully staffed and providing services; for preventive safety measures these staff teams were broken into small working groups, each headquartered in a separate building.
We urged residents to check on neighbors or friends who may be vulnerable in one way or another due to the pandemic and may need assistance.
Governor Cuomo banned all non-solitary outside activity, such as soccer, basketball games and other team sports and ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses across the state. We provided residents with a list of essential service categories. The Town followed the State's order to have 100% of employees deemed non-essential working from home. Highway, Sewer, Parks and Maintenance Departments continued with their work, with the crews working in consistent small units sited separately from each other. Road repairs, sidewalk construction, and leaf and yard debris collection continued. The Clerk’s Office at Town Hall continued maintaining regular hours.
The Town began coordinating with our Senior Center, the Pittsford Food Cupboard, Pittsford Youth Services, The Highlands at Pittsford, Cloverwood Senior Living, and Heather Heights of Pittsford to distribute hand sanitizer obtained from the State and to help in other ways.
The Town Assessor rescinded and canceled the 2020 property assessments in light of the pandemic’s impact on market conditions and other factors. All Pittsford assessments reverted to their status before the 2020 assessment update.
The Town encourages use of Town Trails as a healthy, safe and enjoyable option for physical distancing activities; links to online Town trail maps are provided.
The Town facilitated distribution of approximately 2,600 medical grade masks donated by the Chinese-American community in Pittsford. Together, Town staff and the group’s volunteers delivered masks to Pittsford senior living communities, the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Pittsford Food Cupboard and to first responders at the Pittsford Fire Department and Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance. The donation packages included writings and pictures from the group’s youngest members, expressing love and support for those in need of masks.
The Town began its donate blood campaign, sharing information about the need and importance of blood donations and encouraging the public to donate.
The Library begins offering some of its resources and programming online, creating a web page for accessing digital resources, and special pages with access to online programming and resources for Children & Families and Teens. Programs, activities and resources are expanded throughout the year.
Emergency Services Coordinator Kelly Cline organized and delivered to the Pittsford Food Cupboard hand sanitizer and, donated by Wegmans, reusable shopping bags. Both much-needed necessities.
The Pittsford Community Library, as part of ongoing efforts to offer virtual programming, created an online “Teen Space” – an opportunity to connect, participate in interactive activities, and access research tools.
St. John Fisher College offered residential accommodation to healthcare workers from Rochester Regional Health who are well, but who want to avoid going home between shifts because they have compromised people at home. The college made this housing available for up to 13 healthcare workers.
At the Town level, I suspended the Town’s restrictions on recreational vehicles in residential driveways to enable the doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers here in Pittsford who were bringing their RVs home to stay in them, as a way of keeping distance from their families.
Pittsford Recreation Department begins online seniors balance classes; offered three times a month, the classes are ongoing.
After being notified about group sports and public congregating taking place in violation of the Governor’s Executive Orders, I redeployed a number of Town employees as Park Wardens to ensure physical distancing rules were being enforced in all of our Town parks.
On this day the Town Board held its first virtual meeting, thanks to the Town’s Director of Technology Joy Brown, who had been working diligently to research, set up and assure security for online public access to our Town Board meetings during this period when the Board must meet remotely.
The Town took advantage of reduced traffic and lower petroleum costs to begin accelerating and stepping up road and neighborhood street repair and repaving. We also developed a low-contact process for issuing Marriage licenses though our Clerk’s Office.
The Library launches its Adult Online Information Resources web page, a virtual reference desk offering materials recommendations, digital resources, and program information and activities.
In collaboration with Monroe County and the Pittsford Central School District, the Town distributed 34,000 surgical masks to Pittsford residents free of charge during a drive through event at Pittsford Mendon High School. The masks were made available by Monroe County; Town, School District and County staff and volunteers helped with the event.
In support of our small businesses, the Town provided 2,000 masks to the Pittsford Chamber of Commerce for redistribution to Pittsford businesses.
The Town distributed an additional 60,000 masks to residents at our second drive through mask distribution event, held a Mendon High School. To date the Town distributed altogether over 100,000 masks to community members. The event was a collaboration between the Town, Village, County and the Pittsford Chamber of Commerce.
On Memorial Day the Pittsford American Legion Rayson-Miller Post 899 conducted a brief but heartfelt Remembrance Ceremony to honor those men and women of our military who gave their lives in service to our country; I was honored to pay my respects and participate in the service. The Post's traditional public Memorial Day Ceremony, along with the Town’s Memorial Day Parade, was canceled out of concern for the health of their members and that of the public, and in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic health and safety protocols. In a creative approach to a favorite tradition, the Legion held a virtual poppy sale throughout the month.
The Town moved to help local restaurants and bars reopen safely with outdoor seating by creating a simple and streamlined Temporary Outdoor Seating Application process.
Also on this day, the Library began offering curbside pickup of materials with pandemic physical distancing and mask protocols in place.
The Spiegel Pittsford Community Center begins offering the County’s weekly lunchtime Grab and Go Meals for Seniors on Wednesdays. Later in the season the program was expanded to Fridays as well.
The Governor allows outdoor seating at restaurants, with appropriate physical distancing and mask use.
Town and Village officials join Pittsford Central School district leaders in holding a “reverse parade” to honor our graduating seniors, lining Main Street with their photos and inspiring an outpouring of community support.
The Finger Lakes Region began Phase 3 of the NYS reopening plan, which allowed reduced-capacity indoor seating at restaurants and reopening of personal care services, such as nail salons and spas.
Pittsford Recreation Department offers a variety of virtual programs and adapted many in-person recreation programs to follow all COVID-19 health & safety guidelines. The first of several summer and fall Guided Hikes are also offered.
Phase 4 of the State’s COVID-19 reopening plan began, allowing (with appropriate physical distancing and mask use) public gatherings of up to 50 people, in-person religious services at 50% capacity, low-risk arts, entertainment and recreation venues at 33% capacity.
The result of careful planning and our Pittsford Recreation Department team’s flexibility, creativity and dedication to our residents, our Summer Camp program began, with use of appropriate physical distancing and mask use practices. The Community Center is open weekdays 8:00am – 4:00pm for programs and appointments.
The Pittsford Community Library reopened with limited hours (Mondays & Wednesdays 10:00am – 7:00pm and Fridays 10:00am – 6:00pm) and physical distancing and mask use requirements and began offering low-contact curbside pickup Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm, with requests available by phone or email.
The Pittsford Recreation Department offered its first of three free Drive-In Family Outdoor Movie Nights.
Pittsford Recreation Department’s “Food Truck Wednesdays” at Thornell Farm Park began, featuring a different food truck each week; the event continues through October 21.
The Pittsford Village Farmer’s Market opened for the season at the Spiegel Community Center with COVID-19 physical distancing and mask use in place.
The Pittsford Community Library expanded its hours, opening on Tuesdays from 10:00am – 7:00pm as well as on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00am - 7:00pm and Fridays from 10:00am - 6:00pm.
Library hours expand to be open on Thursdays, from 10:00am - 7:00pm; the Library is now open every weekday and continues Saturday curbside pickup.
August The Town marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and celebrated our history of supporting the women's suffrage movement with COVID-19 appropriate activities throughout the month, including self-guided walking tours, displays, an informational website and a socially distanced fireworks event.
Our Pittsford Recreation Department’s Summer Camp season was a success! Thanks to careful planning, inspired activities, and rigorous health safety practices, our staff gave nearly 200 campers an engaging, fun and safe summer camp experience.
Pittsford Recreation staff, understanding the needs of parents, worked hard to develop and launch an after school program that was engaging and safe for kids and families during the pandemic.
The Town resumed in-person Town Board meetings and included a new live-streaming camera broadcast, enabling the public to view the meeting in real time from a home computer via a smart phone, tablet or other device.
The Community Center's Child Watch program reopened to offer child care for families with children ages 2-5.
The Community Center continues to offer many virtual programs and on-site programs including the After School Program, Pittsford Ballet School, Debbie McVean Aerobics, Martial Arts and others.
Pittsford Recreation begins Pittsford Highlands Chorus online each Monday; the program continues. Community Center is open weekdays 8:00am – 5:00pm and during program hours evenings and weekends.
The Recreation Department began monthly socially distanced family Story Walks in the field behind the Community Center, which include a take-home craft.
The Library opens for Saturday hours, 10:00am – 3:00pm.
The Town shared information about the County’s Fast Forward Monroe Small Business Grant Program, which made $15 million in CARES Act funding available to help small businesses in our area that are struggling due to the COVID pandemic.
Pittsford polling locations were open for Election Day with physical distancing and sanitizing practices in place thanks to tireless efforts by Pittsford Town Clerk Linda Dillon in her work with the County elections team to ensure voting locations were safe and accessible.
Most of Monroe County, including Pittsford, was placed in a “Yellow Zone” by the Governor, which further limited public gatherings and restaurant operating guidelines, among other restrictions.
Due to COVID-19 considerations, the Rayson-Miller American Legion Post 899 did not hold their traditional public Veterans Day Ceremony, but instead held a brief ceremony honoring our veterans. In recognition and thanks, I released a video message honoring our Pittsford veterans.
Although facing revenue losses and increased costs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we passed a 2021 Town Budget that kept the tax rate flat while maintaining and improving Town services.
I participated in a call with Monroe County Executive Adam J. Bello and County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza and lent my support in agreement with them to advocate with the State to keep schools open even if Monroe County gets classified as Orange Zone, as long as the positivity rate in our schools remains low.
We held our third free drive-through mask distribution event – and distributed more than 18,000 masks. Held again at Mendon High School, the event was a collaboration between the PTSA, the School District and the Village. In addition to the drive-through distribution, the Town also made arrangements to deliver masks to local senior residential communities and senior care facilities, to the Pittsford Food Cupboard and to individuals in need who could not attend the drive-through event.
After the previous day’s announcement by the State that parts of Monroe County would be designated Orange Zones, we learned today the precise locations and had our Geographic Information System analyst create a detailed map of the Orange Zone in Pittsford. The area includes all of Monroe Avenue west of French Road. Orange Zone designation further restricts public and residential gatherings and business capacities, limits bars and restaurants to outdoor, takeout or delivery only and mandates 11:00pm closure for on-premises consumption. The designation goes into effect at midnight.
To ease confusion regarding the State’s Orange Zone designation in parts of Pittsford, the Town provided updated State information links on the Town’s COVID-19 information page, in addition to the detailed Pittsford Orange Zone map we created.
I was pleased to participate in a socially distanced wreath laying ceremony held by the Women’s Club of Pittsford at the Veterans Monument – their annual Wreaths Across America ceremony. Joined by members of Pittsford’s Rayson-Miller American Legion Post 899, the Women’s Club shared the mission of the Wreaths Across America organization: "To remember our fallen heroes, honor those who serve, and teach others about the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families." A most fitting way to keep our veterans, the fallen, and their families in our thoughts during the holiday season.
In the evening, we went back to having our Town Board meetings on Zoom due to increased COVID-19 cases, and therefore increased risk of spread, in the Monroe County area.
I signed I signed an Inter-municipal Agreement between the Town and Monroe County, for the Town to receive more than $84,000 in funding under the CARES Act provided by the County. These funds will help recoup some of the COVID-19 expenses the Town has incurred – expenses such as plexiglass, sanitizer stands and dispensers, work pods, personal protective equipment, additional laptops, technology protective upgrades, thermometers, signage, etc.
Changes in Orange Zone restrictions took affect today – gyms and salons in the Pittsford Orange zone, which includes all of the Monroe Avenue corridor west of French Road, will be allowed to reopen tomorrow at reduced capacity with employees getting tested weekly to bi-weekly. Salon workers will need a negative test result before returning to work. Employees may be tested for free at the County’s Rapid Testing centers. Details, including a link to the testing sites, were posted on the Town’s COVID-19 information page.
Our Pittsford Recreation Department announced a variety of online and in-person winter recreation programs.
The Pittsford Food Cupboard announces its Senior Citizens Food Delivery program, which will begin in January 2021. The program is underway and currently scheduled to continue through August 2021.
In light of increased activity during the holiday season, I joined with School Superintendent Mike Pero, School Board President Amy Thomas and Mayor Bob Corby to record a public service announcement reminding folks to wear a mask and to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. The video was shared in the eNews, via social media, and was posted online here: https://youtu.be/1saA8rOQpi0.
The Town Board voted to allow the Town Assessor to automatically renew for 2021 seniors and disability property tax exemptions for all those who had received such exemptions in 2020. That meant those with limited income who are seniors or who are disabled and who received a Town property tax partial exemption in 2020 would receive the exemption with no need to file again for 2021.
The Recreation Department began offering monthly take-home family craft activity boxes.
Elderberry Express resumes free transportation services for medical appointments and grocery store trips for Pittsford residents age 55 and older.
The State approved re-opening of limited indoor dining for all restaurants in Orange Zones.
Library hours expanded to be open on Saturdays from 10:00am – 4:00pm.
The State allowed some school sports to resume.
The Town launches its “Keeping Seniors Safe and Connected” initiative, providing information and resources for seniors via the Recreation Department program brochure mailing to all households and via a new Seniors Resources web page http://townofpittsford.org/seniors-resources-pittsford.
Town staff stepped up with generous donations for the Pittsford Rotary food drive. I was proud to drop off a car load (literally – full to the brim!) of food items donated by our staff and a $200 donation from our Highway Department team.
Elderberry Express offers Pittsford seniors age 55 and up free transportation to COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
Community Center hours expand, open Monday - Thursday 8:00am - 9:00pm, Friday 8:00am - 6:00pm and Saturday 9:00am - 5:00pm.
Library hours expand to Monday-Thursday, 9:00am-7:00pm, Friday 9:00am-6:00pm and Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm.
Again, my thanks to you, to all of our community organizations, to Mayor Bob Corby and his Village team, to School Superintendent Mike Pero and his team at the School District, and to our Town team. Working together has brought us this far and will see us to a successful end to this pandemic. In the meantime – keep your distance. Wear your mask. Stay safe. Be well.
Pittsford Town Supervisor