A Board of Selectmen discussion on the Manor Motel and Mini Storage got heated last night as the owner of the facility and town officials engaged in a fiery back-and-forth.
Motel owner Richard Messina wanted answers from police related to a specific tenant, who he said was renting at the facility and did not continue to make payments.
According to Messina, the town helped the person for at least a week., and the police made a determination that the person was a tenant and would not go through police enforcement.
When Messina disagreed, he went through the eviction process, the tenant was removed, and he asked the town to reimburse about $1,500 in legal services, which was declined.
During the meeting, Messina took several public jabs at Windham Police, who he accused of not enforcing safety at the hotel.
Police Chief Gerald Lewis rebutted the claim, saying that his department has responded to every single call involving the motel. He said that 332 calls and 27 arrests have been made at Manor Motel so far this year.
He also said that Messina has not once communicated with Windham Police regarding the tenant or any other concern.
Messina said that he is looking for the criterion that police use to determine whether a person is a guest or a tenant.
Windham Police prosecutor Heather Newell, who was involved with a similar dispute involving the motel in 2008, said there is no specific checklist in police records when they assess whether a person is a guest or tenant.
She added that it would establish a precedent where people could demand that the police department provide the reasons why they have not been arrested in a given circumstance.
"We don't do that," she said.
Newell stressed that matters at the Manor Motel are actually looked at in greater detail.
Lewis added that a list of overall criteria is used, and no set form.
"Mr. Messina has this list, he was provided this list through his attorney," Lewis said.
Town attorney Bernie Campbell was also in attendance to support the views of Lewis, Newell and Town Administrator Dave Sullivan.
Messina has owned the Manor Motel for over 30 years. He said that for 25 years, he worked very well with the town.
People who stay at the motel primarily stay for one or two nights, although some remain for longer.
The facility is open year-round and provides nightly rates as low as $50.
No action items came forward during the discussion, which lasted about an hour.