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The Board of Selectmen discussed a number of issues Monday night.

Lanesborough Selectmen Weigh Dog Park Location

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Mary Reilly and Tom Rathbun said the Fire Department has non-skid socks and small fire extinguishers to give to the seniors in town thanks to a new state grant.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Town officials are now considering where to create a dog park.
 
The Selectmen had opted to ban dogs from all town parks last year after the Highway Department's workers' union filed a complaint about dog waste. That had followed a push to re-open the parks for dogs with signs and waste bags being made available.
 
Now, the Board of Selectmen is weighing ideas of designating one park specifically for dogs.
 
According to Town Manager Kelli Robbins, a group of citizens had taken the idea of a dog park to the Recreation Committee and is currently working out the details of where it should be and how it should be run. Robbins said a citizen's group would manage the park. 
 
One of the main locations eyed is Bridge Street Park. However, Selectman Robert Ericson voiced concern that the field is in a floodplain and if the state would have a problem with that. The others weren't sure if it was still being used for youth sports.
 
The Selectmen tossed around the idea of making space available on town-owned property on Prospect Street for the park. But that would require fencing. That space is part of a large parcel the town had purchased with the intent to build senior housing. But that project has been on hold for years as funding dried up.
 
The portion the Selectmen talked about for the dogs had previously been eyed for a solar array, which fell through, and is one the Police Department has been urging the town to use to build a new station.
 
The Selectmen do feel some urgency on the issue. Selectman Henry "Hank" Sayers said even with the ban in place, residents are still using the field. 
 
"I think we should get moving because spring is coming and at Laston Field, people are still coming and going," Sayers said.
 
Robbins added that there isn't really a way for the Police Department to enforce the ban since there isn't a criminal charge to press against them if they refuse to leave. Chairman John Goerlach, however, questioned whether trespassing could be used or if the town would need to pass a new bylaw to make it enforceable.
 
The board will now be working on two fronts. First, it will be working on developing a bylaw to enforce the no-dogs regulation at its parks so the policy can be enforced. And secondly, waiting to hear from the Recreational Committee and the private citizens about the next steps on creating a park specifically for dogs.
 
The Selectmen had been going back and forth on the issue for years. The board previously banned dogs from all of the parks and put up signs at each. But then it reversed course and let the animal control officer roll out information and waste bags to get people to use the parks responsibly. But, ultimately, the Selectmen went back to the ban after the labor complaint was filed last August.
 
The Selectmen are also looking for a new gravel bed. The board received a memo from the Highway Department reporting that there is only about a year left of gravel. The department is looking to crush some more but the Selectmen feel that eventually a new one will be needed. 
 
Goerlach said Dennis Condron had previously offered to sell a building lot with gravel in it a few years ago on Ore Bed Road. The lot is next to the landfill and could be potentially affected by contamination in the area. He said purchasing it for the gravel would also eliminate the possibility that somebody builds on the lot and it becomes a problem.
 
"We have one piece of property in town that is available. It was offered to us before," Goerlach said.
 
In other business, the Fire Department is giving seniors non-skid socks and small fire extinguishers thanks to a grant from the state Department of Fire Services. 
 
"The Department of Fire Services look at this as a way to prevent falls," Fire Inspector Tom Rathbun said.
 
Firefighter Mary Reilly said falls are the greatest risk for the town's 323 senior citizens and the socks help keep a grip. The Tundra fire extinguishers are light and easy to use for seniors to make a quick response to a blaze. If seniors would like to have either or both, they are asked to contact the Fire Department.
 
Meanwhile, the grant will also continue to support the department's fire camp. Each year local students spend a few days with the department learning about fire safety as well as potential careers in the fire service. The longstanding program was expanded last year because of the additional grant funding to all elementary school grades.
 
"We're trying to hit all of the different aspects of keeping people safe," Reilly said.
 
The Board of Selectmen also recognized the passing of Harley Phelps with a moment of silence Monday night. Phelps served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for 47 years. He spent 16 years on the Conservation Commission, six years on the Finance Committee, five years on the  Planning Board, and also served on a committee to completely revamp the town's bylaws.
 
"It is quite a loss for the town," Goerlach said.
 
The Board of Selectmen also approved a switch in collection agencies used for the ambulance enterprise funds. Robbins said FFR hadn't really shown the results in collecting the unpaid ambulance bills she'd like and Action Collection Agency is offering a better deal.
 
She said Action will take over the collection work and keep 30 percent of what it takes in, which is slightly less than the 33 percent FFR had been taking. Robbins said there are no other fees associated with the contract.
 
"It's basically a two-year contract for now," Robbins said.

Tags: dog park,   dogs,   gravel bed,   

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Lanesborough Police Chief Retiring, Taxes Dropping

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Police Chief Timothy Sorrell will be retiring after serving five years in the position. 
 
Sorrell was appointed chief in 2015 after serving in the Police Department for 28 years. He started full time in Lanesborough in 1987 as a patrolman. He served as sergeant for 12 years and was a finalist for the chief's position when the town decided to hire Mark Bashara. He then served as an investigator for twelve years under Bashara before getting the spot spot upon his retirement in 2015. 
 
When asked for comment on Sorrell's departure on Monday, the Board of Selectmen said almost in unison, "he will be missed" and they all wished him luck along with Town Manager Kelli Robbins.
 
The process of finding his replacement was started immediately as the board wasted no time in forming a search committee.
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