The Board of Health wants firmer information on the inspection status of the Memorial Building, which is the town's emergency shelter.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health want to make sure the Memorial Building meets all standards before allowing it to be the town's emergency shelter.
Chairman David Rhoads told the board Wednesday that he recently toured the former middle school building and it seems to be stocked and mostly ready to serve as the town's emergency shelter. However, this news raised more questions from the rest of the board.
"Has it been inspected in the last six months or year?" board member Peter Hoyt asked. "I think it has been more than a year, so I just wonder because people are using it on a regular basis and we might want to put that on the town's radar."
The vacant school is written into the town's new Emergency Management Plan as a shelter. Although it does not have a fully functioning heating and air conditioning system, the town did secure funds to install one.
Kevin Towle, executive assistant to the town administrator, did not have a firm answer but knew the building was assessed before the town applied for grant funds for the new HVAC system.
He added that the public is only allowed in the functioning areas of the building and the only real issue that would inhibit an emergency shelter is the air-circulation system.
"The only shelter-related issue that we are aware of is that that air circulation system is not what it should be so if there are too many people and there is carbon monoxide build-up, we just have to leave a door open," he said. "Using it as a shelter is just a matter of opening the doors."
Board member Bruce Shepley wanted more certainty and to be sure about possible state or federal standards the shelter may have to meet.
"I think it is one thing to give it the OK for basketball or for a meeting but, in my mind, the use of an emergency shelter needs to come from [the Department of Public Health] or [Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency]," Shepley said. "I just want to know if the facility has to meet certain requirements or if it is left to us. Critical infrastructure, air quality, access, emergency power -- what happens when the power goes out?"
Towle referred to the plan that states the Board of Health approves the shelter so if there are no standards the shelter has to meet, it will fall back on the board. He said, either way, it is up to the board how it wants to handle the situation.
Hoyt said at the very least the local inspector should conduct a walk through.
Rhoads said he would reach out to state and federal agencies and get an answer for the next meeting.
In other business, Hoyt reported on an ongoing issue on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail: dog poop.
"I am a dog owner and I walk my dog down the trail and there are dog feces everywhere. I pick it up, and there has to be something we can do," Hoyt said. "It is not attractive to people coming through our town walking on our trail and it is a health issue."
Shepley agreed and applauded the town for providing bags on the trail that are often just stolen. He added that he didn't really have a solution and people need to have more pride in their community.
The board will hold a vaping workshop during its next meeting and members urged interested parties to attend.