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TOWNSEND – The Board of Health, meeting remotely via an audio conference call Tuesday morning, discussed possibly reopening the town recycling center and what that might look like.

When the question came up – the second item on the agenda after a COVID-19 update – member Linda Johansen asked how her colleagues felt about the idea.

Citing spring clean-up around town and yard debris likely to pile up, she said people have asked her if and when the recycling center might be open again.

“I’m not a fan” of re-opening, member Christopher Nocella said, although, he has yard waste to dispose of, too. “But I can wait,” he said.

Johnansen, however, suggested the center might open, with guidelines. “Can’t we do it safely?” she asked, since it’s basically a drive-up operation. She also noted there are three employees on site, including a supervisor.

“They are…not paid to be traffic cops,” Nocella countered, adding that he hasn’t heard anyone ask about it anyway.

Chairman Christopher Genoter seemed leery but not opposed. In his view, the board should look into it. Also on Tuesday in Boston, Gov. Charlie Baker’s shut-down order, prev. set for May 4, was extended to May 18

Genoter’s concern, he said, would be what might happen when people show up with heavy or bulky items to drop off, such as TV sets. Getting out of their cars to unload, maybe with help from on site personnel, would bring people into close contact when they should be six feet apart, per social distancing directives from the CDC and the state that the town is adhering to.

Another sticky issue was cash transactions. Tossing appliances and electronics isn’t free, like brush disposal. It’s a fee-paid service, so money changes hands, which should be avoided, members said. Maybe they could issue tickets, paid for elsewhere, or go to credit cards only?

Johansen, however, noted that businesses that are still open in town – like Gourmet Donuts and Hannaford Supermarket — accept cash from customers every day. True, others said, but those buildings have washing-up facilities inside and safety measures in place, including protocols the companies have established for their employees, such as wearing masks and gloves.

Despite potential problems, the center might still be able to operate on a limited basis, most members agreed, say for yard debris only.

But board administrator Carla Hitzenbuhler raised concerns about that. If the center reopens, she said, it could become a magnet for landscaping firms that might dump huge amounts of brush and other yard debris, taking advantage of a resource that’s free for residents but was not meant for businesses to use.

Good point, others agreed. Although people could be asked to show proof of residence through their car windows at the gate. Hitzenbuhler was asked to prepare a list of challenges for the board to consider at the next meeting, when the matter is taken up again.