Town of Pinetop-Lakeside Lays Out Reopening Strategy

Announcing a tentative reopening strategy for the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside at the May 7 virtual council meeting, Town Manager Keith Johnson offered opening dates but cautioned residents that those dates could change depending on conditions.

PINETOP-LAKESIDE – With Gov. Doug Ducey’s announcement last week regarding the general reenergizing of Arizona’s economy, Mayor Stephanie Irwin and Town Manager Keith Johnson concluded the May 7 virtual council meeting with Pinetop-Lakeside’s plan for reopening.

Irwin thanked everyone for supporting the local business community and encouraged them to continue to support the small businesses and the local restaurants who are still unable to open to full capacity. She asked citizens to be cautious, “wear their masks in public and to wash their hands.”

“We are looking at a timeline of opening,” said Irwin.

Johnson announced that the town has been reviewing the White House and CDC Guidelines’ Three Phase Opening of the Economy which states that each phase is supposed to be implemented after two weeks of reduced positive tests. He said they have also reviewed Ducey’s extended Stay Home, Stay Safe and Stay Connected Executive order which ends on May 15.

Johnson said the town believes that since Ducey did not fully implement Phase One that it is likely he will complete the balance of Phase One on May 16. According to White House Guidelines, this would extend opening of the state to June 1.

Ducey’s gradual opening of Phase One stated that beginning May 8 cosmetologists and barber shops could resume appointment-based services “as long as they establish and implement safety protocols and best practices, including face coverings for employees and customers.” As of May 11, restaurant and coffee shops may resume dine-in services with physical distancing measures and they must adhere to the additional guidelines to keep customers and employees safe.

Johnson said the town’s tentative plan is to open town hall, public works and the library on June 1. Hours for the library will be reduced by closing half an hour early on regular days and it will be closed on Saturdays. The plan is to operate with a reduced staff.

For additional protection a plexiglass barrier, similar to ones being used in stores, will be installed at town hall and the library.

“The Visitor Center brings in a lot of people,” said Johnson, “a lot of foot traffic at town hall.” He said there are concerns of people coming in that could be asymptomatic but they are tentatively waiting for the governor’s announcement on the current extended order before they know how to or what kind of restrictions to implement for that area.

Park ramadas, bathrooms and the fishing dock at Woodland Lake Park were slated to open on Friday, May 8 with restrictions. Reservations for ramadas will not be required until summer but instructions will be posted regarding their use. Groups will be limited to ten people and physical distancing is to be practiced. Users will be asked to clean the area before and after use of the facility. Bathroom use is limited to one person at a time.

Plans for various town meetings have been set but Johnson cautioned they could change depending on conditions. The May 21 council meeting will be virtual and not open to the public, but the June 4 meeting will be open for public access. The budget hearing which was scheduled for May 27 has been moved to June 9 at 9 a.m and an additional budget hearing has been set for June 24 at 9 a.m. The final budget hearing and approval will take place during the July 16 regular council meeting.

The Unisource Franchise Election FAQ sheet will be presented to council during the June 18 regular meeting. The question as to whether a franchise will be granted to UNS Gas, Inc. will be submitted to the voters of the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside on the August 4, 2020 election ballot.

Planning and Zoning will resume their June 11 meeting in council chambers and it will be open to the public.

The bottom line on reopening for the town is that everything is subject to change. Johnson’s message for residents is to keep up with town information by reading the “Talk of the Town” weekly newsletter as well as Pinetop-Lakeside’s social media pages.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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