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City Council cancels emergency meeting to discuss homeless situation tonight

  • Residents on the Greenfield Common have been given until Aug. 20 to vacate the premises. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



Staff Writer
Thursday, August 09, 2018

GREENFIELD — The City Council has canceled its emergency meeting scheduled for tonight after the Board of Health voted Wednesday to have homeless residents removed from the Greenfield Common.

The council’s emergency meeting was expected to address the homeless encampment on the common, with the possibility of creating a deadline for when the campers would have to move off the property.

Council President Karen “Rudy” Renaud said the meeting was canceled because of redundancy following the Board of Health decision.

“Logically, it just doesn’t make sense to have the meeting because the meeting was to set a deadline,” Renaud said.

The Board of Health gave homeless residents on the common until Aug. 20 to vacate the premises, otherwise they could be found as trespassing on the property, an arrestable offense.

“We have no authority to change that or override it,” Renaud said.

The residents on the common are expected to receive a cease-and-desist order Friday, after which they will have 10 days to leave the public property.

The health board made its decision Wednesday after determining that the tents on the common are considered temporary structures which, according to Massachusetts Department of Public Health regulations and need approval from the board, which was never received.

The board also voiced public health concerns that having an encampment could, or has, produced. These concerns included hypodermic needles said to be found in the trash, an unconfirmed case of bed bugs and risk of communicable diseases like tuberculosis and hepatitis A spreading through the population.

The council is expected to discuss the homeless issue during its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Greenfield High School. Renaud said public comment will still be available for any residents who want to speak on this issue or others.