Gilroy City Hall looks a little different since it was last open to the public in early 2020.
The multiple entrances have now been reduced to a single entryway, with directional arrows on the sidewalk for those entering or exiting the building. Once inside, they are greeted by an attendant inside a plexiglass-surrounded information desk.
Perhaps the largest change in operations the public will experience is the new virtual queuing system.
On Wednesday afternoon, two women arrived asking where they could pay their water bill. They were directed to an iPad adjacent to the information desk, where they chose which department they wanted to meet with and entered in their mobile number. With no one in front of them in the queue, they received a text message within seconds, notifying them that the finance department was ready to see them.
Office Assistant Zinnia Navarro said roughly 40 people visited City Hall for various services on Aug. 30, the first day it reopened. That number, she noted, is much less than officials saw daily in pre-pandemic times, due to the city bolstering its online services.
On Sept. 13, the Gilroy City Council is scheduled to hold its first in-person meeting inside the council chambers since the pandemic began. While some details regarding public health protocols are still being worked out, council members and members of the public will be required to wear masks while inside the chambers.
Mayor Marie Blankley said she was looking forward to sitting in the chambers again, after council meetings have been held virtually for a year-and-a-half.
“I’m thrilled to be having in-person council meetings again and engaging with the public face-to-face,” she said.
Planned technological upgrades to the chambers, which would allow city officials to run “hybrid” meetings where residents can view and participate remotely or in person, are on hold due to a chip shortage that is affecting countless industries worldwide. City spokesperson Rachelle Bedell said the meetings will still be streamed online and recorded for future viewing.
City boards and commissions are expected to return to in-person meetings at a later date.
City Hall, 7351 Rosanna St., continues to house administration, community development, engineering and the finance and utility billing departments. Recreation services, however, have moved to the Gilroy Senior Center, 7371 Hanna St.
The finance department has moved into the recreation division’s former spot inside City Hall, which allows the services most frequented by the public to be closer to the main entrance.
Recreation’s move to the Senior Center allows the staff to be close to the various activities offered by the division, Recreation Coordinator Monica Sendejas said.
“It feels a lot more efficient,” she said.
Among other things, the public can reserve picnic sites for gatherings at the city’s various parks, which Sendejas said have been “popping” over the summer as residents are eager to be outdoors after being cooped up at home for so long.
The center offers space for activities such as tutoring, arts and crafts, community meetings and more, for all ages. Senior services are provided during the daytime hours, such as tax services, lunch programs and other social activities.
City Hall will be open Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30am-4:30pm and Fridays by appointment. Recreation services are available Mondays through Fridays from 9am-to 4:30pm. For information, visit bit.ly/3yEzG2I.
The City of Gilroy is also offering a number of recreation activities in the fall that are currently accepting signups. For information, visit cityofgilroy.org/reconline.