Harrietstown and the DMV
Since the coronavirus lockdown began last March, the Harrietstown town board has been holding Zoom meetings.
The majestic town hall was entirely shut down in the early stages of the pandemic, but now the town offices are all fully staffed and operating by appointment.
The merged town and village court is in session on Mondays only. The Franklin County sheriff’s department provides security immediately inside the front door, and the only access is to the courtroom.
The big deal has been the closing of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Town Supervisor Mike Kilroy and the town council tasked me with investigating the situation.
Following is an edited statement from Franklin County Clerk Kip Cassavaw:
“This is an update on the status of the Saranac Lake DMV. As you know, the office is currently closed and not staffed at this time. There are many reasons for this.
“1. The office is very small, and at this time it is unable to meet the governor’s guidelines for social distancing.
“2. Saranac Lake and Franklin County are still under a state of emergency.
“3. All DMV offices across the state are only allowed to be open by appointment only, per the governor’s latest executive order.
“I know that one of the big questions that you have is if and when that office is going to reopen. I don’t have that answer for you. I hope to be able to reopen that office in the future. I have not removed any of the computers, and the county continues to honor the lease and pay rent. Unfortunately the office is small and is going to require some modifications in order to reopen, such as glass barriers between the staff and customers. As I said before, the office can only open by appointment, and as such, that will require more staff to reopen.
“I know it is an inconvenience with the office being closed for the residents of the area, but fortunately there are some alternatives for them to consider.
“1. The Malone office is open and taking appointments; appointments are approximately four weeks out and have been working out very well. Neighboring counties are booking appointments two to three months out.
“2. The drop box in Malone is available with a turnaround time of four to six days.
“3. We continue to process all mail sent to the P.O. Box 70, Malone, NY, address with turnaround time of four to six days.
“4. There are some transactions that can be completed online.”
The following is my edited response to Mr. Cassavaw:
“We (the town board of Harrietstown) do understand the restraints on your operation at the Franklin County DMV imposed by the governor’s executive orders.
“As I pointed out in my letter to you of Aug. 17, the layout of our DMV office would exactly meet the governor’s guidelines for social distancing.
“The office is small, but without going into all the detail as I did in my previous letter, anyone arriving to use the DMV office would come in a side door of the town hall, with a long distance to the DMV; two at a time would go into the DMV on the left and exit out the front door. No one is close together, and no one has to backtrack. The town of Harrietstown would supply security.
“Also, we here in the south end of the county love to point out every once in a while that the towns of Harrietstown, Tupper Lake and Brighton pay more taxes to the county each year than the other 16 towns in Franklin County combined.”
The staff in the county clerk’s office and at the DMV could not be more helpful. For the county clerk’s office, call 518-481-1681. For the DMV office, call 518-481-1606 or 518-481-1604. Keep trying; the lines are usually busy.
Howard Riley is deputy supervisor of the town of Harrietstown and submitted this on behalf of town Supervisor Mike Kilroy and the other members of the Town Council: Tracy Schrader, Ashley Milne and Jordanna Mallach.