Blossburg is taking steps for a safe and measured reopening of the community.

At the May 13 meeting, council discussed some of the work being taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Council members approved a Declaration of Disaster and asked the staff to keep receipts for all COVID-19-related expenses.

The borough agreed to not levy a 10% penalty on real estate taxes paid after July 1 through Dec. 31 of this year.

Council also discussed opening the pool. Under the yellow phase, which Tioga County entered on May 8, public pools are not to open. It is unclear whether pools will open in the green phase. If allowed, Mayor Shane Nickerson asked if there is a time when it’s not worth opening the pool.

Borough Manager George Lloyd said the pool could open in August and there would be a benefit. The problem may be finding lifeguards at that time as most will have found other jobs. The splash pad could be opened without certified lifeguards, said Lloyd.

The mayor also urged Blossburg residents to continue social distancing, mask wearing and limiting public interaction.

“It’s really, really important we continue to do what we’ve been doing all along and keep our numbers low,” he said. “If we get a spike in cases, we’ll move back to red. I think we’ve earned this position. Hopefully, if we keep our numbers low, the governor will move us into the green phase.”

He urged all borough employees, police and council to set the example by following protocols recommended by the governor.

He and other council members are hopeful that more small businesses will be allowed to reopen. Those that reopened on May 8 received yellow buckets containing masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, disinfectant and a copy of the CDC guidelines from the Blossburg Together Group.

Council agreed to move picnic tables from Island Park and set them up on borough property close to local restaurants. It will allow diners to eat outside in warm weather while allowing social distance.

Island Park has re-opened some areas. The River Walk trail continues to be open, and residents can now use the tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball fields and gaga ball pits. The pool is closed, and the large pavilion will remain closed for renovations.

The playgrounds are closed, but people are ignoring the posted signs. The borough will use snow fences and larger signs to reinforce the message.

Council agreed to allow Firehouse Subs to operate a food truck in the plaza parking lot May 28-31. The business will donate 10% of its proceeds to the local fire company, which has not been able to raise funds at the Coal Festival and other celebrations, said Nickerson.

In other business, the Blossburg water authority will purchase an excavator, which will be leased to the borough and the sewer authority when needed, said Lloyd. The excavator, which will cost about $180,000, costs $4,500 to rent by the month. In the past, the borough and authorities have joined forces to purchase large equipment. This arrangement will allow the borough to save money toward the replacement costs of a loader, said Lloyd.

The borough will ask engineer Scott Bray to look at drainage improvements for Arbon Cemetery.