AGAWAM – Several town departments met June 9 to discuss the public safety issues surrounding the Agawam Motor Lodge, Mayor Richard Cohen said. Representatives from the Fire Department, Police Department, coding enforcement and Health Department were in attendance.
Complaints regarding the safety and health standards of the building were brought to the town’s attention from a news report, which cited concerns of those living in the Agawam Motor Lodge, Cohen said.
Bedbugs and questions of the building being up to health and fire code were among the primary complaints. According to Cohen, the Fire Department inspected the building on June 8 and said it was up to code.
The Agawam Motor Lodge had been housing tenants of a condemned building in Springfield, Cohen said. The landlord has since moved the tenants to La Quinta on Congress St. in Springfield.
“They never called the town,” Cohen said. “As soon as we heard about it, we took action … Every allegation has to be taken seriously.”
Health inspectors visited on June 9, and a representative from Agawam’s Legal Department said the investigation was ongoing.
Cohen and inspectors visited the Agawam Motor Lodge after the allegations became public and said the staff was “cleaning the place feverishly” to get it up to code.
According to Cohen, residents of Agawam have long considered the Agawam Motor Lodge a problem. Cohen said a business cannot be condemned or shut down without a legal reason. Between January and June of this year, there have been 184 police calls to the facility, Cohen said.
“That’s a large number of calls,” he said. “Just because the police are called doesn’t give us the right to condemn or shut down the building, but it does raise a concern … That’s certainly an eye opener. We’re going to continue to look at it and see what we can do in the limits of the law.”
While nothing has been decided about the fate of the facility, Cohen will be meeting with the town’s legal department and the owner of Agawam Motor Lodge.
For now, however, Cohen said the town’s main concern is public safety.
“When I hear the things that are potential safety concerns, it becomes an issue. We act upon them immediately, and that’s what we’re doing,” Cohen said. “My reaction to any allegation is if there is a public safety concern, it is No. 1. We want to make sure that the people who live there are safe and the people who live around there are safe.”
Cohen has also urged anyone with complaints regarding the Agawam Motor Lodge to call the Health Department.