Step by careful step, Copake maps opening strategy April 17, 2021


COPAKE—There’s a plan for that.

At its April 8 meeting the Copake Town Board reviewed, discussed and approved plans for re-opening places, programs and events across town. All plans incorporate new procedures suitable for a Covid-19 world.

It started with Town Hall, which reopened to the public April 12. Supervisor Jeanne Mettler said appointments are recommended and departments within the Town Hall can require appointments if necessary.

Next came a plan for conducting Copake Clean-up Day, the popular event at which residents can unload many kinds of junk or unwanted stuff. Clean-up Day will happen this year May 15 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Town Highway Garage, 47 School Road.

The new Clean-up Day rules say, regardless of vaccination status, masks must be worn and social-distancing practiced. Only a limited number of vehicles will be allowed to enter the site at one time. Residents will have to unload their own vehicles and stay inside them until that time.

“No Copake staff will reach into any vehicle,” the rules say. Once the vehicles are unloaded, residents must exit the site. All board members were in favor of holding the event under the new plan.

Copake Summer Program Director Bryan Van Tassel was up next, with the 2021 Copake Park Summer Program opening plans and Covid-19 protocols developed by him and his wife, Hollie, who is assistant camp director.

The plan calls for a maximum of 65 campers, ages 5 to 12, who will be divided into six smaller groups according to age. The park will be split into six regions, such as the main building, the playground, lawn area and so on. Each area will have some kind of shelter and its own water jug, medical kit and Covid kit. Counselors will disinfect all equipment and sanitize campers’ hands before they move to another region.

Everyone will wear masks at all times and campers should bring extra ones along with a backpack to keep all their supplies in.

Strict one-at-a-time entry and exit procedures are in place for campers along with temperature taking and Covid screening questions.

Mr. Van Tassel said that his wife is a physical education teacher and has learned “what we can play and what we can’t play” and how to modify games so they meet guidelines.

The board gave tentative approval to move forward with summer camp this year, reserving final approval for the May meeting.

Copake Park and Recreation Commission Chair Lianna Gaston submitted a plan for holding the commission’s summer concert series and food truck festival in the park. Concerts will start June 26 and run for 10-weeks until August 28. The safety plan notes that the number of people allowed at an outdoor venue was recently increased from 50 to 200 with mask-wearing and social distancing in effect. The plan has two sections, one specifically for the concert series, the other tailored to the food truck concession.

How many people and where they can sit for the concerts will be designated by areas spray-painted on the grass. Concert-goers also have the option of staying in their vehicles while listening to the music.

Patrons of the food truck must wear masks and maintain social distancing while in line for food. After they get their food they must take it to their seats or cars or wherever they are going to eat it. They can remove their masks while eating but must wear them whenever they move around the park. Compliance with the rules will be monitored by park commission members and/or town board members.

Supervisor Mettler called the plan “well-thought-out” and the board “enthusiastically” approved it.

Next in the line-up was Ron Semp, president of the Taconic Hills Little League Board of Directors, who submitted “the gold standard” of a plan, which the supervisor called “elegant” and “elaborate.” Councilman Stosh Gansowski told Mr. Semp, “You should copyright this plan, that’s how great I think it is.”

The Little League plan covers everything from mask-wearing on and off the field; to how many players can be in a dugout at one time (just three) and mandates no handshakes or personal contact when celebrating a home-run or a win. “Players and coaches will take measures to prevent all but the essential contact necessary to play the game,” the plan says. Each player can have a maximum of two spectators in the stands cheering for them and everybody has to be seated six-feet apart.

Baseballs will be rotated regularly—at least every two innings and must be disinfected between innings.

“Coaches and players from the opposing team should not touch the other team’s balls,” the plan dictates, noting each team should use their own balls.

The board wholeheartedly approved the Little League plan and the supervisor agreed to find out about obtaining and installing signs bearing Covid-19 regulations on the playing fields. The season starts the first week in May.

The board discussed whether Copake Falls Day organizers should also supply a plan for executing their event which usually takes place in August. The board agreed that since the town provides insurance for the event, they wanted to see a plan in writing.