Firefighter Edward Moult closes the door to Ambulance 5-8 while inspecting the vehicle April 23 at the Waterville Fire Department. The coronavirus pandemic requires city rescue workers to decontaminate emergency medical services equipment and vehicles after they have been used on calls.

WATERVILLE — City officials are considering a plan to have emergency housing at Thomas College for first responders during the coronavirus pandemic.

That topic will be front and center Tuesday night when the City Council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m., with a livestream linked from the city’s website — waterville-me.gov.

Councilors are expected to consider approval of a license agreement with Thomas College that would allow emergency workers and first responders, including police officers and firefighters, to live at dormitory rooms if they are healthy but may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Thomas would not charge the city for the housing, according to City Manager Michael Roy.

Waterville City Manager Michael Roy

“I think it’s certainly a good idea to have something already approved, should we need it,” Roy said Monday. “We’re very, very grateful to Thomas in helping us secure that location, and hopefully we’ll never have to use it.”

Roy emphasized the housing is for emergency workers and first responders who appear to be healthy.

He said the housing would be for those facing a “threat or fear that they’ve been exposed, and they can’t go home or shouldn’t go home until the quarantine period is over.”

Waterville created an Emergency Operations Center in March for its public safety staff to convene in and monitor the coronavirus outbreak. Last month, officials said the center at the Waterville Fire Department had decreased its hours but would remain in place and ready to increase activity, if needed.

In other matters, the council is expected to consider adoption of a policy on access to public meetings, since the public is no longer able to attend in person because of the coronavirus. The public can now view City Council meetings, for instance, via livestreaming accessible by a link posted on the city’s website.

Council meetings are usually scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesdays. The public can also watch council meetings live via Crossroads local access channel 1301 or view rebroadcasts of the meetings at 7 a.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. the following Tuesday.

Council meetings can also be viewed the Wednesday following the meeting via Crossroads YouTube.

The policy the council will consider Tuesday stipulates that with meetings now being held remotely, the council will accept written comments from the public, since people may not attend the meetings. Questions or comments must be emailed to [email protected] or sent by mail to Public Comment, 1 Common St., Waterville, ME 04901, preferably before 5 p.m. the day of the meeting. Public comments received after that time will be given to the council during the meeting, according to the proposed policy.

“We’re going to encourage people to write in, hopefully before the meeting, and that way we can address questions,” Roy said. “We’ll try to take written questions as they come in. We’d do our best during the meeting to accept written questions.”

A separate proposed policy would allow the public to phone in questions during the meeting and require callers to provide their names and addresses. A staff member would have to come to council meetings to take those calls and relay questions through the city clerk to the council. A call-in number would be provided during the livestream of the meeting, if that second policy were adopted.

Roy noted public comments and questions will not be accepted Tuesday because the council has yet to adopt a policy.

The City Council is also expected to consider the following Tuesday night:

• Refer to the Planning Board for public hearing and recommendation a proposal to rezone part of a lot on Webb Road from Rural Residential to Solar Farm District. Roland Rossignol and NextGrid are requesting the rezoning.

• Refer to the Planning Board for public hearing and recommendation a proposal to rezone part of a lot on Lincoln Street, west of Runnals Stream, from Residential-A to Solar Farm District, to allow for construction of a solar farm.

• Establish hours for voter registration and designate a polling place for the primary and referendum election to be held July 14 at Thomas College. If the Harold Alfond Athletic Center is not available that day due to COVID-19 restrictions, the election would be held at The Elm at 21 College Ave., according to the resolution.

• Award contracts with Teague Distributors of Fairfield, Hammond Tractor Co. of Fairfield and Brookdale Fruit Farm of Hollis, N.H., for $106,000 worth of equipment for the Parks and Recreation Department. The equipment includes two commercial lawn mowers, a tractor and commercial water wheel. The city already has borrowed the money for the equipment, according to Roy.

• Accept a $13,400 Maine Health Access Foundation Grant to buy a fit testing machine for the Fire Department, to be used to ensure respirators fit properly.

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