By Pattie Pacella, Neighb News Correspondent
The Acushnet Selectboard met on 7/14/20 with a town hall reopening plan presented by Town Administrator Julie Hebert.
Ms. Hebert stated that the full-time town hall employees have been back to work, however the town hall was still closed to the public. She said some employees and department heads still had concerns about re-opening fully to the public.
They have been working on a plan that might include a window service for the collector’s office for residents to pay bills, or possibly a doorbell outside the building that the public could ring into the office they were looking to visit.
Ms. Hebert stated it is a plan that she and department heads are trying to put together to be able to open to the public.
Selectboard Chairperson Kevin Gaspar stated that he just wanted to make sure the service to the public continues and that it is done safely for both the Town’s employees and the public. He said the town has done a pretty good job servicing the public and he was happy with that effort.
He added that when they are fully opened to the public, he wants a “mandatory mask requirement” for both the employees and the public to enter or visit the building.
“The new normal,” Mr. Gaspar said.
Selectboard member David Wojnar asked for perhaps a group of employees to start a working group to suggest ideas and suggestions on how to move ahead with the re-opening and present it to the Selectboard. He stated it would be a good idea to address employees’ concerns.
Ms. Hebert stated that the Board of Health does have some concerns that because businesses are re-opening their doors there may be an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Ms. Hebert stated that some of Acushnet cases have come back and they just want to be as cautious as possible, but still continue to support the residents.
The Selectboard and Ms. Hebert are looking to re-open the Town Hall by August 3, 2020; with additional information to follow.
The Selectboard also discussed the roof replacement at the Acushnet Elementary School. Mr. Gaspar stated they are all aware that the roof is in “dire” need of repair. He said he had favorable news to share with the board that included instead of a debt exclusion, that perhaps they could use the solar revenue fund that would capture approximately $80,000 to fund the roof.
Mr. Gaspar said they should get the final numbers from the Mass. School Building Association in late August. He explained that the MSBA is funded by the state sales tax.
“I am happy to report to the Selectboard and the taxpayer that we may be able to put a roof replacement on the school without debt exclusion,” said Mr. Gaspar. “This is a huge accomplishment for the board and taxpayers.”
The Selectboard voted to forward the project to the MSBA. Mr. Wojnar also suggested that the board send letters to their state representatives for support of the project.
In the Town Administrator’s report, Ms. Hebert read a memo from Police Chief Christopher Richmond congratulating Detective Sergeant Keith Ashley and Detective Jeremy Faunce on being recently sworn in as Special Duty US Marshalls.
Mr. Gaspar also congratulated the two detectives saying they really work well together. Mr. Wojnar said that currently police officers are being challenged and he was very proud of the two gentlemen, along with the Acushnet Police Department as a whole in protecting and serving Acushnet.
Also, in Ms. Hebert’s report she brought it to the attention of the Selectboard that the School Department has asked that they try to relocate Public Hearings, which are currently being held in the Ford Middle School gymnasium.
Ms. Hebert stated that the School Department is trying to move forward with a plan for opening in the fall and needs to get the school property prepared with sanitizing, etc. She suggested that perhaps they could look at the Council on Aging building for public hearings or discuss other locations.
Mr. Wojnar suggested that a discussion take place with the owners of the Century House if that was a possibility. Mr. Gaspar agreed that might be a valid opportunity and they will discuss it further.
Board member David Desroches asked about the school cafeteria and if it was not going to be used in the fall by students eating there, then perhaps that was still an option for public hearings. He also asked if the school had any ideas of how and when the education of the students was going to happen for the fall.
Ms. Hebert stated that they had to submit a plan of learning to the DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) by July 31, and then they would go from there.
In other business, Ms. Hebert reported that a part-time health agent has been hired, Pat Hannon, and that they would have him come to the next meeting to meet the Selectboard.
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