Virus update: 1st resident’s family member infected; Town trails & Trottier track open; Golf Course closed; Election postponed;

by beth on March 25, 2020

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Above: Feel like getting out for a walk. You can use the Town trails (though keep better social distance than this group in 2018 at Breakneck Hill) or if you need a flatter surface, Trottier’s running track. (L-R photo by Beth Melo and cropped from Facebook)

This morning, the Town issued another update. It includes news of a second infected resident and some policy changes and decisions made out of last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

Infected residents update

The memo shares that a 2nd resident was confirmed as infected. The original patient is still in the hospital and the newly confirmed person is self quarantined. Last night, Public Health Nurse Leslie Chamberlin informed selectmen that it was a family member of the first patient living in the same residence. (I’ll be sharing more on how the Town’s public health department is monitoring the patients’ “contacts” in a later post.)

The video conference call also related that three members of the Fire Department are currently under self quarantine due to circumstances involved with the infected residents. (The SFD is still fully staffed around the clock. Again, more on that later.)

Public Recreation rule changes and clarifications

The Town clarified that Town trails are open (though Chestnut Hill Farm’s isn’t). They also announced the reopening of the Trottier running track for walking and jogging. The Southborough Golf Club won’t be opening until the Governor’s restrictions on certain gatherings expire on April 7th.

Last night, Selectwoman Lisa Braccio asked Town Administrator Mark Purple to make clear to residents that Breakneck Hill, the Town Forest and Beals Preserve are all still open for hiking. She also brought to them a request by seniors to allow use of the Trottier track. She said that with the closing of the track seniors who don’t have sidewalks have been walking in the cemetery to get needed exercise. But that surface is uneven. She also noted that seniors haven’t had access to their usual physical therapy.

Selectmen agreed to reach out to Southborough and Northborough Superintendent Gregory Martineau.

Purple indicated that Martineau was open to discussing use of the track. He was concerned about the opening leading to potential gathering of groups playing athletics. He also worried about people walking their dogs there and leaving “presents” behind. (The track has a “No Dogs Allowed” sign that is regularly ignored.)

It looks like they got the Superintendent’s approval and for more than just seniors.

As for other field recreation, Selectman Dan Kolenda argued to re-open fields for socially distant recreational use (like tossing a baseball). He failed to convince fellow board members who worried about a slippery slope leading to people playing in close proximity.

Town Election postponed

As the update notes:

The Board of Selectmen voted to delay the Town election scheduled for May 12, 2020 to a date to be determined before June 30, 2020. Selectmen will collaborate with the Board of Registrars and the Town of Northborough on a new date, as the two towns share candidate(s) for the Regional School Committee on the ballot.

Last night, Town Clerk Jim Hegarty told the board that if the election was to be held on May 12th, this is the time he would be contacting people to work the polls. Right now, he said shooting for the original date would require him to “pull a rabbit out of a hat” to ensure safety poll workers and accurate results.

Hegarty also stated that while the Town was given flexibility to postpone to an unnamed future date, there are still some restrictions.

They have to follow the Secretary of State’s rules and he isn’t changing the dates for pulling and filing papers. (The election will still be considered the May 12th election, with that date on the ballot, even after a new date is announced.) The 16 candidates who filed papers (out of 18 who pulled them) are the only ones who will be on the ballot when the election is scheduled.

The Town has until 20 days prior to the new election date to announce it. Meanwhile, the ballots will become available in mid-April. That means residents could begin voting by absentee ballot before a new date is determined.

Braccio and Kolenda, whose seats expire this spring, both recused themselves from the election discussion. Braccio filed to run for re-election but Kolenda did not.

Full update

Click here for the latest memo, the Town’s posting of the Governor’s orders on essential services and updates and more. You can also watch last night’s BOS meeting here.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 no poo March 25, 2020 at 12:55 PM

Most of the local residents around Trottier school complied when the track area was posted some time ago. A very small set of pet owners persist in walking their dogs in and around the track area. On recent visits there a number of dog fecal deposits have been observed, suggesting some of these recalcitrant pet owners not only ignore the signs, they don’t bother to pick up after their pets either. It is likely those owners who have spoiled the use of the track area for everyone with a pet – especially responsible pet owners.

Note that geese also regularly visit the area and leave a tremendous number of their fecal deposits, which have the potential to carry literally scores of pathogens: bacteria, parasites, viruses, fungus, etc. The geese also regularly visit the reservoirs in town and all of the other athletic fields. Something to think about.

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