Smithville prepares reopening, social distancing continues

Businesses in Smithville, like the ones pictured here along U.S. Highway 169, are eager to open after stay-home orders are lifted Monday, May 4.

SMITHVILLE — While stay-at-home orders will be lifted in Smithville Monday, May 4, social distancing protocols and amenity closures will remain in place.

“Much work remains to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to emerge from the crisis and resume normal life while preventing steps backward in the fight against COVID-19," Mayor Damien Boley wrote in a letter to residents.

City operations

City Administrator Cynthia Wagner said while things will reopen, city staff and businesses will work cautiously. The City Hall lobby, 107 W. Main St., will remain closed to the public. Bills from the city can continue to be paid by phone via credit card or via check dropped in the city dropbox in front of City Hall.

“(On May 4,) people can contact City Hall between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., our regular working hours,” Wagner said. “We will have a Ring doorbell system installed out front so if people do come to City Hall, they will talk to a receptionist who will find out what their need is. Then, if they must interact with someone, we will practice social distancing. We will provide face masks and we will try to minimize the interaction.”

Wagner said face masks will be offered to any resident who needs to enter City Hall and that some city staff and officials will continue to work from home, reducing risk to city employees and residents.

Public recommendations & amenities

Once orders are lifted, residents are asked, if socializing, to gather in groups less than 10 people, practice keeping physical distancing of at least 6 feet apart and wear masks when in public places like grocery stores or other businesses.

“Our Parks and Recreation Department is probably the most impacted,” Wagner said. “We will continue to keep playgrounds, restrooms and fields closed.”

While other outdoor amenities will remain closed, trails throughout the city will continue to be open as they have been during stay-home orders.

“The next phase of recovery outlines a 10-person maximum for gatherings and that is difficult to maintain in a sports setting,” said Wagner, “so rental of all our shelters, facilities and leagues are canceled at this point.”

Smith's Fork Park's campground will also remain closed. Mirroring what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Clay County Parks decided, Smith's Fork campground is slated to open no sooner than June 1, Wagner said.

“We do have the campground open on a limited basis,” Wagner added. “There is a (Facebook group), 'RVs 4 MDs,' they reached out to us … . They link up RV owners with medical first responder personnel who have family members who may be immuno-compromised and don't feel like they can safely return to their home.”

Campground shower and bathroom facilities remain closed, but medical professionals who are part of the program have been offered space free of charge at Smith's Fork, Wagner said, assuming they keep confined to their RV space.

City revenues

Beyond closures, Wagner said there are a lot of unknown long-term impacts to the city related to COVID-19 shutdowns, specifically city revenues.

“The biggest thing for us will be sales tax,” she said. “We don't see sales tax revenues. … They are submitted a month after they are collected, they go to the state and then the state sends them to us. The most recent payments of sales tax we have are still covering the time things were open.”

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at sean.roberts@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6606.​

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