Squatters found in O.B. town hall trailers

Man charged with breaking and entering.

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The Oak Bluffs Town Hall "temporary" trailers, shown just after installation in April of 2018, became the home to squatters.

Updated June 18

The vacant modular trailers intended to house Oak Bluffs town employees were not so vacant last month; police discovered people squatting inside.

On May 22 at 9:30 pm, police entered the trailers after receiving a tip that people were squatting inside, according to a police report. Several of the doors had keys in the locks, but one room was missing a key.

Inside the room, officers discovered personal items, makeshift beds, and clothing. Officers also discovered human waste “throughout the room” and “piled up” in the trailer’s bathrooms that don’t have running water.

“I can’t imagine it was good. Can’t imagine it was sanitary,” said Sgt. Dan Cassidy, who was not on the scene, but provided details from the police report.

Officers left the building, but returned at 2 am and identified a male, 32 years old, sleeping in the room. He told officers he was in the building so he could charge his phone in a warm place.

The man told police he received permission from “the program” to be in the building, and believed the trailers were a makeshift homeless shelter, part of the Parish Center next door. He said he “wasn’t doing any harm and thought since the building was unlocked that it was OK,” the report states.

Police charged the man with a breaking and entering misdemeanor. The man told officers another man was living in there. Police believe a third person was also living with them.

Officer Timothy Millerick, one of the responding officers, asked the man who was caught how long he had been staying in the building.

“I’m not homeless, I just bounce around. Sometimes I sleep in a tent because it’s cheaper than paying $1,000 in rent,” he said, according to the report.

Selectmen chair Brian Packish and town administrator Bob Whritenour went inside the trailers after the police had cleared out the inside.

Packish said there wasn’t any damage to the inside of the trailers, and it appeared the people who got inside had picked the lock on the door.

The break-in is the latest in a series of blunders that began last year when two rounds of bids for the new town hall came in millions of dollars over budget. Voters then shot down additional funding to meet bid prices, throwing the project into limbo and leaving the town with no new building, and locked into an 18-month lease for empty, unused trailers.

The $9.8 million approved by town voters at the 2017 annual town meeting included the cost of a new town hall and the temporary town hall trailers.

The six trailer modules, stuck together to form 4,200 square feet of office space, were leased from Modulese, a North Attleboro–based company. The trailers were leased for $8,200 a month for 18 months. After the lease runs out, the town has the option to rent the trailers out on a month-to-month basis.

“The trouble with the lease is that the cost to dismantle and remove is more significant than the timeline on the lease,” Packish said. “It’s unfortunate that we’re even in the position, but right now, unfortunately, it makes the most sense to keep them … which is a tough pill to swallow.”

Now coming up on 11 months into the lease, the town plans to move administration from the Oak Bluffs School into the trailers while extensive roof repairs are being done at the school.

After the new town hall project failed, the town decided to focus on renovating the current town hall with the funds raised at the 2017 town meeting. Town officials met with representatives from Icon Architecture, a Boston-based firm, on Wednesday. Packish said Icon will begin its feasibility study for renovations next week, which will take five to six weeks. After that, the town will hold the first public forum about the renovations.

Updated with more details from police report.

12 COMMENTS

  1. When will OB voters stand up and demand accountability for this malfeasance. Someone needs to be accountable for blowing almost 150K of taxpayers money. Ultimately selectmen are responsible for the affairs of the town and we need to press them for answers. Then perhaps replace them for incompetence.

  2. BB, you can now expect at least one of those Selectmen responsible to block you on social media, when casting an opinion in opposition. Once a “Friend”, now blocked from the public discourse on his page.
    Accountability? I doubt it, not from that bunch.

  3. ok– let me step into the “nut case ” realm here. We have articles about homeless people in this publication– we have unused space at the town expense.. how hard could it be to put A and B together, and turn this into a positive ?

    • If they can’t afford to live here, they should go someplace else. I notice there aren’t pictures of the trespassers; how politically correct. Did I miss anything? No scripture came to mind.

      • What do you mean by “no scripture came to mind”? Like biblical evidence for helping the poor? What about “Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”? Or “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.”? Or “A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.”? Or “And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”” I couldn’t find “If they can’t afford to live here, they should go somewhere else.”

        • All of those scripture verses refer to volunteer charity and support and has nothing to do with government and involuntary demands upon taxpayers. As for dondondon quoting scripture; he is always wrong on its interpretation because he is an ordained minister in the Pastafarian religion and does not understand Christian hermeneutics.

          • If there’s a disaster of such magnitude, say a Force 5 hurricane, that our Government decided they alone had the resources to help, you would oppose? If Government did not step in with funding and logistics, would your assistance have been “thoughts and prayers?”

      • new englander– I assume you are commenting about scripture in your response to me because i occasionally quote scripture in my responses to hypocritical christians .
        I wonder why you comment that there are no pictures of the trespassers ?
        Would it make a difference to you if they were of a particular ancestry ? perhaps they have long hair and beards ? perhaps they wear MAGA hats ?

        • I was being cynical. Too often those commenting want to know the ancestral group of the offenders for typecasting, that is not justification for including. I wanted scripture used by those who misuse the text, to use it to condemn rather than support. My mind went blank on ideas, it was too early Monday morning. Sufficient?

  4. New Englander. You always interpret posts incorrectly. Government should step in and help with a Force 5 hurricane, and do it with our tax dollars. Suggesting that homeless can occupy any place they want and using scripture to justify it is illogical. Those trailers were broken into. Scriptural posts do not defend illegal entry and they are entirely voluntary.

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