Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Public Safety First

Celebrate Amherst Block Party banner, also in the downtown

In the past 24 hours I've received two emergency  reverse 911 calls, one from the town health department warning residents to stay indoors after dark, and just now from School Superintendent Maria Geryk cancelling all after school sports until October 1st,  all because Amherst is at "high risk" for mosquito-borne illness.

UMass/Amherst has also just now cancelled all nighttime outdoor activities.
  
So it really makes no sense for the town and Business Improvement District to move forward with the "Celebrate Amherst Block Party" scheduled for tomorrow night 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM outdoors, in the downtown, on a warm late summer evening.

Since the reverse 911 calls have probably reached a majority of households in the region (the schools encompass Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury) attendance will surely suffer. And if anybody should contract a mosquito borne disease after attending the event, a lawsuit could be costly.

And that's nothing to celebrate.

17 comments:

AlexKG said...

You're right, Larry, that the timing is unfortunate. But cancelling this event, which has taken three months of intensive planning, is not feasible at this point. What we have done and will do again is put notices out on our social media channels urging caution, and we will also have multiple spray stations at the event with insect repellent.

I appreciate your concern for the success of the event as well as the wellbeing of Amherst area residents! I hope you'll wear long sleeves & bug repellent and come out to the event, so both those goals are realized.

LarryK said...

It's not me I'm concerned about (mosquitoes seem to just love my ten year old).

Anonymous said...

Deepwoods Off is pretty good. But not sure if it's good for kids. The Library is doing night time stories indoors and there's a book sale inside.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say that I don't feel comfortable going tomorrow. Was really looking forward to it. I feel like I have to take the state and town seriously on this one.

Anonymous said...

Alex, I can't wait to go to the block party tonight. I think this elevated threat is a CYA move on UMA's part.

Anonymous said...

The Big E is not cancelling, the Belchertown Fair is not cancelling, so just use reasonable precautions. Bug repellent is a good idea. The center is not a buggy area as there are no ponds or streams nearby and it's a street lined with brick buildings and asphalt.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, AlexKG. You are wrong.

It is ALWAYS feasible to cancel. You simply decided to put money over safety.

If using insect repellent is a viable solution, then why issue the alert to stay inside to begin with? It's beyond hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

Money is absolutely not the issue since there is no money charged for the event or in any way made by the BID. The costs are the same whether it happens or not. The issue is whether there is a risk that actually warrants cancelling the event. Town health officials think there is not. Take the same precautions you would take if you were going to walk your dog, take the trash out, walk to your car, go to a store, etc. We live in a world of risk. You could get run over walking across the street. In this case, it is unlikely you are in a high risk area. Better to stay off the bike trail at any time of day, as it runs through a swamp. Just use some bug repellent and have a good time.

LarryK said...

The Board of Health did issue a "stay indoors after dark" alert two days ago via reverse 911 and the Schools used their reverse 911 yesterday to cancel after school sports until 10/1, so it's safe to say either town/school officials are over reacting or the BID is under reacting.

Anonymous said...

John Musante was the key person who advocated for the event to continue.

LarryK said...

And who is going to dare oppose him?

Well, except for the Select Board -- but that's a different issue.

LarryK said...

An Anon wanted to post this and it got in the way of two related comments so I'll post it now (and yes I already tweeted it as well):

amherstma.gov - News & Announcements Posted on: September 13, 2012 AMHERST HEALTH DIRECTOR URGES COMMUNITY TO COME & ENJOY BLOCK PARTY TONIGHT Continue To Take Appropriate Precautions To Protect Yourself From The Risk Of Mosquito-Borne Illness. As you may be aware, Amherst and much of the local area are considered by state officials to be at high risk for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), a serious mosquito-borne illness. The Celebrate Downtown Amherst Block Party scheduled for Thursday, September 13th from 6:00-10:00 pm will be held as scheduled. I am comfortable that an event of this type can be held safely in our downtown. Event organizers at my request will have two tables for mosquito repellant, one next to the Post Office and one near the Kendrick Park stage. The tables will also have advisory materials from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. If you are outdoors after dusk be sure to wear long sleeves and long pants and use mosquito repellant with DEET. For on Public Safety First

Anonymous said...

The Town is going to have a difficult time getting people to take any future alerts seriously when they're blatantly ignoring their own warning on this one.

LarryK said...

Yeah, the old "Little Boy Who Cried Wolf" routine.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the town caved to pressures from local businesses, especially restaurants, who stand to profit from this event.

Anonymous said...

What an AMAZING event! Thank you Mr. Alex K-G, I had a wonderful time (and so did my family). This was a brilliant idea and one that should definitely be repeated.

Anonymous said...

I agree anon 8:53. I had an awesome time. Great idea! Hope it's an annual event!