By Pattie Pacella, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on 8/15, the Acushnet Selectboard held a public hearing for 55 James Street to discuss expending town funds for the cleanup of the property.
Building Inspector, Jim Marot stated that the property has been in disarray for years and is now a safety hazard for the neighborhood and residents. Joe Correia, from the Board Health agreed.
Town Administrator Brian Noble said that it was not in tax title as of yet, but it soon would be and they would not be making any money back on cleaning up the property. He said they wanted to get it to a “saleable condition.”
Selectboard Chairperson Kevin Gaspar said numerous notifications were sent to the homeowner and he has made no efforts to contact the town. The Board approved a motion to have the property cleaned up. The work will be handled in-house by the Department of Public Works.
In another matter, the board discussed the test period of the Town Hall hours. In June, the board decided, along with the union and Mr. Noble, to close Town Hall on Fridays and have it open until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Mr. Gaspar said he was not sure how he felt about continuing that schedule but he was trying to hear feedback from employees and the public.
Town Clerk Pamela Labonte shared her experience with the time change, saying that although it would not affect the Town Clerk’s office, as the office has been open every Tuesday until 8:00 p.m. for six years, it was her opinion that she has seen an increase in traffic at the Town Hall with the new hours.
“We are all public servants and I feel the public deserves our extended hours to serve them,” she said.
Mr. Gaspar said he appreciated her opinion, but also stated that the Town Clerk’s office was a little different than other town offices, because they have always worked those extended hours.
Mr. Noble reminded the Board they have really only been trying out the new hours since June and that perhaps a few more months would give them a better idea on how it is really working for residents.
Suzanne Picard from the Assessors office said that she has seen the volume of people and calls increase significantly since the change, and wanted the board to keep new hours.
Laughing and looking at Mr. Gaspar she said, “I’m begging you Kevin.”
Public Works Superintendent, Dan Menard said he did not want to be the downer, but the hours were not really working for his department. He said that they have had no one in on Tuesday evenings, and there are approximately 30 to 40 calls that are not answered on Friday.
Mr. Menard did note that his department has two clerical staff members who work the new hours.
Selectboard member Roger Cabral said that he was trying to look at the situation from a resident’s perspective and was not sure that the hours fit into their schedule with no one at the Town Hall on Fridays. He said he would have chosen different option to have town hall open for at least part of Friday.
Mr. Gaspar said that the Board would discuss it in Executive Session and make a decision, knowing that the September 1 end of the trial period was right around the corner.
“Whatever you decide,” Ms. Labonte adding, “I think you have to be consistent.”
In other business, Police Chief Michael Alves told the board that when the Civil Service list becomes available on September 1, he would like to request six part-time police officers. He explained that it takes nearly a year to do the background checks, the academy and the training for the officers, and he wants to be one of the first to request the officers. The Board approved the request.
Mr. Noble reported that he and board member Mike Cioper have been to a few meetings with the Board of Health and PJ Keating.
Mr. Noble said it has been an “eye-opener to walk that neighborhood.”
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