Fairbanks North Star Borough works to reopen facilities and services
The Fairbanks North Star Borough is working to reopen facilities to the public as the governor's mandates have lifted. Borough Mayor Bryce Ward says they have been establishing mitigation plans to make sure they are following state mandates and health advisories.
He says most of the facilities where they have been able to meet those requirements have been opened, or are in the process of reopening.
"It's important for folks to understand that we're doing all that we can to continue to provide these services in a way that's safe for the public. So one hand, I know that there are many folks that are frustrated because facilities are not open, and because there are limited hours, or limited services that we can provide. However, we're doing that in a way that protects the employees but it also protects the members of the public that uses those facilities. Really it’s those vulnerable populations and those folks that may be a little bit more susceptible to the virus that we’re really trying to make sure we keep those requirements appropriate for all of our users," said Ward.
Currently, all borough buildings are operational but closed to the public. However, the Solid Waste Facility is 100% operational and open to the public, including the Solid Waste Facility, all transfer sites and the Central Recycling Facility.
“I think the biggest challenge we have faced as a borough is the uncertainty. Rules have changed very rapidly in some instances and so it has required us to make revisions to policies and guidance to directors and our departments sometimes that change within the day. I know that that is the same frustration that many of our businesses and other organizations within our community have faced; the rules seem to be ever changing with this situation and we’re trying to stay on top of it, we’re trying to stay compliant but it can be very difficult at times,” said Ward.
Ward also says the borough assembly is working on a plan of how to start allowing in-person public testimony again. He says some residents are still trying to maintain social distancing, and appreciate the opportunity to participate online, so the borough is working to find a balance between the two.
"It's my understanding that the presiding officer and the clerk are working on this type of hybrid system where we can maintain social distancing with the chambers, people can still come provide testimony in person, but that they would also be able to do that via platforms such as Zoom,” said Ward.
The borough hopes to have the hybrid assembly meeting system available in mid-June.