COURT HOUSE – Visitors to Middle Township Town Hall will now be greeted by a staff member who will buzz them in and help route them to their destination.
According to a release, the added safety measure is part of a two-phase plan to tighten security and reduce the number of people walking through buildings as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Cameras have been installed at the front door of Town Hall, as well as the entrances of the Zoning and Construction and Public Works buildings, to help monitor visitors. Visitors to Town Hall will now be required to use the main entrance, on Mechanic Street.
Residents are encouraged to continue using drop boxes outside buildings for payments, permits and paperwork.
The new entrance system, which was instituted on Dec. 9, is expected to help maintain social distancing in Town Hall and control the number of individuals in the building at any given time.
“These phased steps are necessary as we continue to adjust to the changing realities in our society,” stated Mayor Timothy Donohue. “We want our residents to feel welcome in their Town Hall. At the same time, the safety, security and health of our employees and visitors must be a top priority. We believe these measures implement a well-balanced approach to maintaining access to services while upgrading security and enhancing COVID-19 protections.”
A second phase of the security plan, coming in the next few months, will focus on the municipal court, which shares a building with Town Hall, but is separated from township offices by a hallway. A locking mechanism will be added to the double doors between the court and Town Hall offices, and the general public will be unable to travel between the two parts of the building. Employees will be issued electronic access cards to pass through the doors.
Like the first phase of the plan, these changes also have a secondary purpose of reducing the number of people walking through Town Hall. Court visitors will be required to use the Boyd Street entrance.
These steps are in addition to security protocols that are required through the Atlantic/Cape May County Vicinage. Those include moving light switches inside walls to protect against the possibility of someone turning off the lights to create a distraction and inflict harm.
Middle Township employees also participate in active shooter drills as part of the municipality’s focus on creating a secure environment for staff and building visitors.