Residents raise concerns about Bliss Corner record search

Oct 8, 2019

An attorney and a property developer are pushing for an explanation and more transparency in how the town is handling its hunt for documents pertaining to the Bliss Corner pollution problem. 

At an at-times heated Select Board meeting on October 7, two residents brought their concerns to the board. The residents, attorney Betty Ussach and property developer Kevin Medeiros, are no stranger to the Bliss Corner problem.

Medeiros is the owner of Bliss Corner properties where pollutants were first unearthed during construction projects. It is what touched off the state investigation into dumping in the neighborhood, after similar pollution was discovered at other areas in the neighborhood. 

Ussach said she knows people, including a client, who lives in the neighborhood, but was attending the meeting as a concerned citizen and volunteer.

They contend the Select Board has not been forthcoming with how it is processing a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection request for information seeking Select Board meeting minutes which may reference the issue.

“I want to determine whether or not I feel that I am satisfied, as a resident of the town, that we have in fact done everything in terms of the examination of records in town hall to answer the questions regarding whether the town knew or possibly knew about potentially toxic sites in Bliss Corner,” Ussach said. 

Much of their discussion focused on Select Board meeting minutes. In January, MassDEP requested information from the town on historic dumping. Documents, mostly from the Board of Health, were submitted in response to that request. 

A second request was made for Select Board meeting minutes. The minutes are now in a set of boxes in the Select Board’s office, however Medeiros said the documents are not being searched through thoroughly — an accusation town officials deny. 

“We are up front with this,” said Select Board chair Stanley Mickelson. “We don’t want to have any accusations we’re doing anything underhanded.” 

MacInnes said the first request for information was outside the scope of the documents being examined now. He said those documents are being scanned electronically instead of having staff read them on paper, which he said will make searching the documents easier. About two-thirds of the boxes have been sorted. 

“The boxes aren’t labeled, not labeled to what DEP was asking for,” MacInnes said. “Some say ‘misc.,’ some don’t say Select Board minutes, some are unmarked.” 

The board and MacInnes agreed to bring Director of Public Health Chris Michaud on board to sort through and search the Select Board documents. Michaud led the inquiry into the Board of Health’s records, which consumed 540 hours within his department alone. 

Ussach and Medeiros intend to be at the next Select Board meeting to further discuss the issue.