It’s no secret that the Board of Health has been a source of frustration in Wrentham. From slow response times and difficulty figuring out when the office is open, it’s not uncommon to hear complaints about the department. After hearing from many angry residents about the department, the Board of Selectmen requested the Board of Health to appear in front of them Tuesday night to find a way to deal with the complaints.
While the Board of Selectmen have no authority over the Board of Health beyond budget purposes, the board sees the complaints as a quality of life issue if only because of the complaints they hear.
“When the residents show concern it does effect the quality of life and the role and the mission statement of the Board of Selectmen is to provide the highest quality of life,” said Chairman Joe Botaish.
As the town cut back due to the recent economic difficulties, some of the cuts included cutting the staffing at the Board of Health down to a part time employee. The transition from the former employee who left earlier this year to the current staffer did not help matters either. Town Administrator William Ketcham did say that the complaints about availability have gone down with the new staffer and consistent office hours.
In their defense, the Board of Health is well aware that they are by no means popular around town. Chairwoman Debra Dunn said that she had ask for the public to submit any issues they may of had so they could review what is not going right and would contact anyone who had come to the Selectmen with complaints.
Among the complains listed by Botaish was the lost of business due to the time it takes to get a permit, citing Northland Farms’ decision to move to Cumberland, RI instead of staying in Wrentham.
There has also been a lost of home sales due to the extended time it takes to have the project approved. According to Botaish, brokers find it hard to do business in Wrentham. Giving another example, Botaish mentioned that one of his former classmates could not sell his house because he was forced to wait on the Board of Health.
The comments from Selectman Charles Kennedy was to the point as it was clear that the Board of Health was going to get few compliments during the evening.
“It sounds like we’re just plagued with a backlog. Not meeting deadlines is making it very difficult for things to get done,” Kennedy said. “People are really not happy from the feedback that I’ve had.”
The Selectmen also suggested better communications with the appointment window for inspections instead of saying the inspection will be done between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to help prevent residents from losing an entire day waiting for an inspector.
By the end of the appointment, it was clear that there was some work that needed to be done and the Board of Health was willing to make the adjustments needed while admitting that they could not get better without knowing what they needed to fix.
For those not sure what the Board of Health’s office hours are, they are open Mondays from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Tuesdays from noon to 7:00 p.m., and Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.