SHIRLEY -- At its December meeting, the Board of Health agenda included updates on outstanding issues such as low-hanging utility wires at Wayside Trailer Park on Clark Road and a private well on a Horsepond Road property that's been problematic for some time.
44 Horsepond Road
Earlier this year, the board took property owner Shawn Hillman to housing court after wrangling with him over the well issue. Specifically, the two sides could not agree on whether water from the dug well that supplied his house was safe to drink.
It was not, according to Health agent Ira Grossman, of the Nashoba Associated Boards of Health, who took a clear stand on the issue that the health board shared: Having failed two tests, Hillman's well water was not safe to drink and he was told to stop using it. The court backed up the order, setting a date for him to fix the problem or move out.
Hillman had some ideas about how to do that short of installing a new well or hooking up to town water, which runs by the house via a pipe in the street. He was told that a long-term, low-interest loan linked to his water bill was available to cover the cost if he chose that option. If not, the health board agreed to be as flexible as possible and work with him to solve the problem some other way. But the bottom line was that after initiating the fixes, his well water had to be tested again and pass at two testing points. It did not.
The conclusion was that the suction-type well was taking on water from the septic system and contaminating the water.
After a couple of extensions and with no other viable solution on the table, Hillman finally agreed to hook up to town water and the board backed off the court case, allowing him time to do so. He asked if he could continue to use the well water for nondrinking purposes outside the house, such as watering the grass, but the health board said no. To ensure residents' health and safety, the well had to go, period.
With the water hookup completed, Chairman Joseph Howlett confirmed the well was decommissioned.
"It's out," he said, "I visually saw it..."
With his drinking water problem solved, Hillman's next hurdle should be simpler. Board members said they need a certificate showing the septic system was properly installed.
Wayside Trailer Park
Tenants living in the enclave of mobile homes on Clark Road known as Wayside, a privately-owned property converted to an "over-55 community" several years ago, have complained that electrical wires suspended from poles the owner had erected himself in the older section of the park are dangerously low, among other problems, such as potholes and water pressure.
Responding to the safety issue, the health board conducted a site walk to look at the wires themselves and invited state officials to come along, including Sen. James Eldridge and Rep. Jennifer Benson, whose district includes Shirley.
While the wires were deemed too low over a handful of homes in the oldest section of the park, there was no safety risk to the residents, members found, that required immediate intervention by the Board of Health. But the problem had to be fixed.
The owner has been very cooperative in resolving the matter, member Jackie Esielionis said.
Howlett agreed, having observed "digging behind the trailers" in question to run new wires to the homes. Road crossings have been done, too, he said. Now, the owner is waiting for Verizon to erect a new utility pole across the road to complete the work.
At a pole hearing the selectmen held, a Verizon representative got the go-ahead to install the new pole, which he noted was specifically for Wayside.
The job, then, is in the works, but Howlett said that's no guarantee it will get done any time soon. He suggested asking Eldridge and Benson to apply some pressure to get the job done now, before the winter frost line settles in.