By Pattie Pacella, Neighb News Correspondent
The Acushnet Selectboard held a meeting on Tuesday, 8/18/20 with continued discussions on the re-opening of Town Hall, and PJ Keating..
Fire Chief, Kevin Gallagher was in attendance to discuss a “free-standing kiosk’ that the Fire Department had purchased that takes temperatures with a pre-set trigger to allow admittance into the Fire Station. With the recent purchase, the Fire Department has been able to allow call firefighters back into the station as part of initial screenings due to COVID19.
Chief Gallagher has played an integral part with other Department Heads to assist in creating a Phase two opening Town Hall and other public buildings.
Town Administrator Julie Hebert reviewed the Phase 2 opening plan with the Selectboard. She stated that there is now a walk-up window for the collectors/treasurer’s office. The window is open from 9 a.m. to Noon, Monday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday for payments. Ms. Hebert told the board it has been extremely successful for residents who like to pay their bills in person.
Ms. Hebert also said they have established a ring doorbell system at the front door for each pertinent office. She said they will, with the Selectboard’s permission, purchase temperature kiosks; then residents will be able to buzz the office they are looking for, get their temperature scanned and checked, and then will be able to enter the building.
“Of course, masks are required to enter,” Ms. Hebert added.
Ms. Hebert also stated that in this next phase all public meetings should continue to be virtual as the Governor has recently lowered the gathering amount. She explained they continuously are working with the cable staff to set up virtual public meetings so that residents can access and watch meetings remotely, and if they want to participate, they can.
Selectboard member David Desrochers asked how long the kiosk systems take to come in.
Chief Gallagher stated it was a quick turn-around and they could order and get them in several business days.
Chief Gallagher said there are also a lot of “bells and whistles” with the kiosk that may be helpful in the future, including tracking with photos of Town Hall staff, and the kiosk could interact with the Town’s software.
Chairperson Kevin Gaspar sent out a thank you to Ms. Hebert and Building Commissioner Jim Marot for all their efforts in putting together, with department heads, the different phases for opening Town Hall. Mr. Gaspar stated he has received nothing but positive feedback on the collector’s/treasurer’s walk-up window for payments.
Selectboard member David Wojnar agreed with the positive feedback. He stated that it was important to empower the department heads to be flexible to their employees, especially when the students are going back to school. He also said that the different offices need to provide coverage for their employees, and it shows a united front across the board.
Mr. Gaspar agreed and stated he believed they have been flexible with the staff.
Mr. Wojnar also commented on all meetings going virtual, saying that it was a great idea for perhaps residents to become more involved in different meetings.
“It might just be a great opportunity to get residents more involved or to join smaller profile meetings,” Mr. Wojnar stated.
The Selectboard voted unanimously to approve eight temperature kiosks through the CARES grant program. The cost is $1700/each.
The board also briefly discussed the PJ Keating, Soil Permit Cease and Desist order. Mr. Gaspar read a letter that was addressed to the Selectboard from the employee workers union from PJ Keating.
Mr. Gaspar stated that the Selectboard was not trying to put anyone who works for PJ Keating out of a job.
“It is not the fault of the employees,” Mr. Gaspar said. “The PJ Keating Management team has disrespected and has no [regard] for the Town of Acushnet’s officials and Selectboard. They are out of compliance and it seems they don’t care.”
Mr. Wojnar agreed, adding, “We have no intention of putting anyone out of business.”
Mr. Gaspar stated that PJ Keating has filed an appeal on the cease and desist that will be disucssed at the Selectboard meeting on 8/27 and at the Board of Health meeting on the same date.*
Mr. Gaspar stated it would be a virtual public hearing and the public is encouraged to join in.*
In other business, Department of Public Works superintendent Dan Menard was present to review a few DPW projects. One project that the Selectboard needed to vote on was the 100’ brick wall that was on the right side of the Hamlin Street bridge.
Mr. Gaspar stated that he and Mr. Menard discussed the wall, as some say it is historic to the Town, and that a good use of the bricks may be for the Lake Street Improvement Association to use somewhere on their project. The Selectboard voted unanimously to remove the bricks and give them to the Lake Street Improvement Association.
Kathy Silva, of the DPW, was also present and stated that she was going to be sending a note in with residents’ water bills regarding the lack of plastics in recycling.
“We have failed miserably with plastics,” Ms. Silva said.’
She also spoke about a bulk item pickup happening possibly in October.
Mr. Gaspar stated that he felt it was best not to give a particular date yet. He said as the fall approached, he would talk to the Board of Health along with Ms. Silva to get a date and they could then do a reverse 911 call to residents to make them aware of it.
*Both boards handled the matter in executive session
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