By Thomas D’Agostino
WEBSTER - Selectman Mark Dowgiewicz brought up a very important issue at the Webster Board of Selectmen Meeting on Monday. Mr. Dowgiewicz and the rest of the board agreed that the Town of Webster is in need of some “cleaning up” in regard to nuisance properties and criminal element.
First, the concern over nuisance properties was addressed. Many landlords of the town’s tenements are absentee landlords, renting to anyone without a stringent background check. The proposal is to remedy the situation by having landlords accountable for their properties in cases of habitual offenders. The board would like to see these properties cleaned up of both less desirables in the town and the buildings. A list was suggested for certain properties where the police are called to more than usual. This list would be compiled and then the owner of the property would have to answer to the Board of Selectmen. This would mean fines for the owners that would escalate if the problems were not resolved.
At present there are few towns that have laws pertaining to landlord accountability. According to Town Administrator, John McAuliffe, Taunton was one of the first in Massachusetts to have such a law.
That was the first part of the issue Mr. Dowgiewicz addressed, the second was public safety. “Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, the town, safety wise, is not doing good at all. We have a great infrastructure, we have great people in command, we have good schools, we are putting money into our schools and police station, we have a new library, we got businesses coming into town, but we have a lot of element in town that’s bringing down the community.” Selectman Dowgiewicz stated.
Selectman Dowgiewicz went on to say, “We are above the national crime rate as far as averages in crime in almost every category…and for a small community, that’s not good.”
Selectman Dowgiewicz gave a few examples of incidents over the past week prior to the meeting where an anonymous person was threatened while sitting in his auto waiting for someone, eight people were arrested within ten minutes for different reasons just a few yards from each other, and a citizen found a sawed off shotgun sitting on the side of the road.
One suggestion was to hire three more police officers designated to cracking down on the select criminal element in town. The board agreed that the current officers are doing an amazing job but are overworked for the amount of calls that come into the station. According to one statistic given, the town had thirty police officers in 1958. It currently has thirty police officers now, in 2012.
Selectman Robert Miller also gave a few examples of the unruly crowd that gathers at the McDonald's, where fights and other trouble has been a constant. He agreed that if the town is investing money in homes, schools and businesses, it should invest in a few special officers to get rid of the criminal element. “It (the town) is going to hell in a hand basket, and it’s going pretty quick, and we’ve got to do something about it.” Mr. Miller stated.
“We need to be proactive on this. This is a great town and we are moving forward.” Selectman Dowgiewicz said.
Mr. McAuliffe was also in agreement that there should be a provision of some sort for landlords to fix their properties both aesthetically and to whom they rent.
The board voted to act immediately on plans to remedy the situation in making the town safer for the people and move forward as a safe and friendly community to live and do business in.
In other business, the board voted on a tentative date for the 3rd Annual Thunder on Webster Lake boat races. Labor Day weekend 2013 was penciled in as the tentative date. This past event was a great success, drawing an estimated five thousand people to the lake to see the races and partake in other activities. Selectman Robert Miller said, “All in all, it was a good event. We can only improve it, I guess.”
Edward H. Moore, CEO of Harrington HealthCare System addressed the board in regard to an 8.8 million dollar fundraising campaign to rebuild the Webster Harrington Hospital Emergency Department. The campaign has raised $700,000 with a $4,000,000 challenge match from an anonymous donor. The present Emergency Room was built in 1955 and is far outdated. The ER treats twelve thousand patients a year. The proposed renovation would make the Webster unit far more advanced than its Southbridge counterpart. “We are not just providing care, we are saving lives.” Mr. Moore stated.
There will be a wine, beer and chocolate tasting at Indian Ranch on October 14 from 2-6 p.m. to raise money for the cause. Tickets are $25.00 and can be purchased at Marty’s Liquors or call (508) 768-2259. You may also donate online at www.harringtonhospital.org.
The Webster Lake Association raised $23,000 at the golf tournament for weed treatment of the lake. The association gratefully thanked all the sponsors who helped. There is a list on their website www.websterlakeassociation.org.
Joe LaPlante addressed the board in regard to the repair and maintenance of the Civil War statue at the Town Hall. The statue needs some repairs that will facilitate staging and removal of pieces. According to Mr. LaPlante, the statues are worth about $400,000 each. Funds to complete the project will be on the warrant.
Hometown Bank will be doing sidewalk work for special access to and from their establishment. The new entrance and exit along Gore Road will be one way in and one way out. This will not affect the new pavement, as there will be no digging in the roadway.
Almac Motors Class II Used Car License Revision also passed.
The board approved articles 1-18 of the town warrant and approved article 19-23 to be referred to sponsor. The Town Meeting will be held on Monday, October 15 at the Bartlett School Auditorium.
- Tuesday, 25 September 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News