North Adams Transcript
ADAMS -- Town officials say emergency personnel, the Alert Hose Company and the police department have reported no safety concerns if Charles Street remains cut off from Lime Street as it has since Tropical Storm Irene, but the street's decommissioned bridge will remain a question mark until next week, at least.
The heads of each department relayed word to Select men for a workshop meeting Wednesday night, where residents of Charles and Davis streets were invited to speak.
"There's a plan in place for getting emergency services in and out of there. ... They know how they would attack a fire if there was one on either street," Selectmen's Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said at the meeting.
Residents Bill Blakeney of Davis Street and Rosemarie Malloy of Charles Street at tended, each reporting their individual concerns.
Blakeney thought increased Davis Street traffic and plowing could cause issues and Mal loy feared ambulances might be delayed in the case of a medical emergency.
"[Someone] could die during that extra time [spent negotiating the one-way]," she said.
The town faces the dilemma of whether to leave the bridge as is or face engineers' high es ti mates for repairing the 15-foot-long bridge, compounded by scant assistance being of fered by federal agencies.
The Federal Emergency Man agement Agency reported after Irene that because the bridge had not been inspected,
The following costs have been estimated for various ways of dealing with the bridge: a full bridge replacement at over $200,000; re vamping the bridge into an open-bottomed box culvert for roughly the same price; or a removal of the bridge and return of the brook to its original state, estimated at $50,000.
"I cannot support spending that kind of money to replace a second access," Selectman Mic hael Ouellette said at the workshop. " ... All three [emergency departments] came back and said there's no issue. ... They're the experts and I'm not going to second guess our department heads."
Selectmen John Duval voic ed similar thoughts.
The board plans to vote on whether to send the matter to town meeting at next week's regular meeting. Town Admin is trator Jonathan Butler has spoken in favor of the option.
Harrington told residents in attendance that even if the measure doesn't pass, they could gather 100 signatures from town taxpayers and have it added to a future town meeting as a warrant article.
The horseshoe-shaped neigh bor hood made up of Charles and Davis streets is located off Lime Street. A brook there surged during Irene and caused damage to the Charles Street bridge's abutments and I-beams, rendering it impassable. Since that time, the two streets' residents, roughly 35 people, have adjusted to Davis Street being the only entry point to the neighborhood. Charles Street, an unaccepted road, is now a one-way without a turnaround.
To reach Phil Demers, email