ADAMS, Mass. — The town will be able to closely monitor the Dug-Out Motel now that a Springfield court has taken control out of the manager's hands.
Albany, N.Y.-based attorney Douglas Rose was appointed in housing court on Friday to take over the motel's management while the town looks to find alternative housing for families and individuals who have been living there for years.
The town previously placed a vacate order on the motel after a teacher reported that a rat had bitten a child living there.
The motel has been operating as more of a long-term boarding house, which it is not permitted, and health officials are concerned about overcrowding — including a family of eight living in one room.
The Fire Department found that residents were given hot plates to cook on and there are multiple non-functioning carbon-monoxide detectors. Police have reported a high volume of calls to there.
Town officials are working with the Tenancy Preservation Project, an arm of the Berkshire County Housing Authority in Pittsfield, to find alternative housing and hopes that soon the motel can be brought into compliance and operated as a motel instead of a boarding house.
"We got what we were looking for with the receivership so we're heading in the right direction right now," Code Enforcement Officer Scott Koczela said on Wednesday, adding that working with Rose on other properties in the past was successful.
Koczela said five families have found new housing including the family of eight. Some of those families are still at the motel but will be moving soon. There is a total of 15 units at the Howland Street motel and the focus is on finding housing for the families and later moving to individuals.
"Our intention isn't to put anyone on the street or into shelters," Koczela said.
Three weeks ago, town officials and the representatives from the Tenancy Preservation Project met with the families to explain the process, gather the residents information and begin the search.
The vacate order initially called for all residents to have moved out in 45 days but Koczela said on Wednesday that the deadline will be extended while they work with the families. There is not currently a date set in which residents must be out but that time will come, he said.
After receivership was appointed on Friday, the motel ran out of heating oil and Koczela said the Board of Health purchased $600 worth to make it through the week. The town is expected to be reimbursed those fees through rental rates Rose collects.
Meanwhile, the motel's owners are cutting ties with the company that was managing the property. Shoba Inc. had a purchase-and-sale agreement in place to sell the business to Guravtar Enterprises in installments. Koczela said the owners are looking to dissolve that contract. Once ownership has been resolved, a company will have to petition the court to end the receivership.