Blanchette Will Not Seek Re-Election

Roger Blanchette will not seek another term on the Marion Selectman Committee this spring, he announced at the Marion Board of Selectmen’s January 17 meeting. The selectman will be wrapping up his second three-year term.

“I’d like to congratulate you,” Chairman Jonathan Henry said, commenting on the “length” and “depth” of Mr. Blanchette’s 26-year long service to the town, including terms on the Private Roads Committee, Housing Partnership Committee, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Finance Committee.

“He is not someone who just showed up to the meetings. He is a decision maker and a mover and a shaker,” Chairman Henry said. “You stepped up and made a difference in everything you did… clear and unequivocal.”

In commenting on his service to the town, Selectman Stephen Cushing said, “He always says the thing that everyone wants to say but won’t say.”

“I can’t think of anyone who has done the things you’ve done, not since I’ve been around,” Chairman Henry told his fellow Selectman.

As a main agenda item, Selectmen heard from Department of Public Works’ Robert Zora, who brought in Shawn Syde and Robert Otoski from CDM Smith to discuss a comprehensive roadwork plan that would update sewer and drainage systems to reduce expensive and unnecessary water flow into the sewer system, and repave and design roadways in key parts of town.

The “bottom up” project – with a conservatively (35 percent contingency included) estimated price tag of $27.34 million – would be phased out over 8 years. For work on central villages, the firm would halt construction during the busy summer season.

Mr. Syde said a critical part of the project is reducing private water flow into the sewer system. He said one sump pump running for an average of 10 minutes per hour would contribute 13,000 gallons of clean water to the system.

The firm said based on its inspections of 536 buildings (81 percent of houses in the village) – its staff have located 44 private inflow sources. Mr. Syde said improvements to reroute water to the drainage system could save the town a minimum of $90,000.

CDM suggested ironing out improper inflow, then repairing old pipes – some of which that are 100 years old – and make improvements to the drainage system to reduce flooding. Finally the film would pave roads, and redo curbs, sidewalks, lighting and repaint streets. Areas affected include Main Street and the village, Pleasant Sreet, Front Street, and Spring Street.

To get the project rolling, CDM Smith will be hosting a number of meetings this spring to garner input from local committee and the public, and ultimately to build up support for a green light to proceed at the upcoming Town Meeting.

CDM said funding could come from the state through low interest loans and public works grants.

The presentation did take Finance Committee Chairman Alan Minard off guard, who expressed concern about the fast pace in presenting the project at Town Meeting.

“I’m confused… people in town will be confused. We’ve been digging up streets, appropriating money for other sewer improvements. We’ve already appropriated money to pave the very same streets. Now we have a massive program with little notice and huge amounts of confusion,” he said.

CDM officials promised that they will meet with each committee and more clearly delineate pre-existing sources of funding and current projects and how they fit into the proposal.

“We will be bringing more info than we have right now,” Mr. Otoski said.

However, Selectmen Blanchette did express some preliminary support for the project. “It’s a one time opportunity that will last 100 years,” he said.

In other business, a neighborhood group approached the Selectmen with two draft petitioner warrant articles to limit the functionality of the Marion Open Space Acquisition Commission (MOSAC).

Carol Amick, representing the Quelle Lane Association (including Quelle, Bayberry, Holly Cedar, Thistle, Arrowhead, Bayview, Jobs Cove, Reservation and part of Converse Road), requested assistance with two petitions – one which would transfer unexpended MOSAC funds to an account in the custody of the town treasurer and the other requiring Town Meeting approval for any “undertakings, commitments, options, leases, exchanges, agreements” MOSAC pursues the for a land purchase.

The association’s petitions in part stemmed from concerns by a purchase by MOSAC for a 2.7 acre lot for 3,500 times more than the Marion Board of Assessors valued it “without any knowledge or input from the neighborhood, without the support from the Community Preservation Committee, and without any concern about how this purchase would impact parking on the private streets nearby.”

Ms. Amick said the association has spent $9,000 contesting the purchase.

The association particularly takes issue with MOSAC ‘s ability to acquire land without Town Meeting or Selectman approval.

“We understand that the agency serves a purpose to the town, but feel it should have some transparency,” Ms. Amick said. “We’d like to see MOSAC operate like other boards.”

Although the Selectmen said they could not endorse or co-create the warrant articles, they encouraged the association to pursue their addition on the spring annual meeting town warrant.

“If you are so into this that you want to do it, do it and do it correctly… at some point we may or may not support it… I really feel you should do it by yourselves,” Selectman Blanchette said.

Chairman Henry said endorsements typically take place on the town meeting floor. He said outright that he supports MOSAC but said town meeting approval on purchase “might be an appropriate thing.”

The deadline for petitioner articles is March 9.

In other business –

• The board denied a water abatement request from David Cook 28 Marion Road in Rochester.

• The board appointed Dennis Enright to the EMS

• The board approved the purchase of a $60 full time advertisement for Fairhaven Bicentennial Committee booklet to congratulate Fairhaven on its 200th anniversary

By Laura Fedak Pedulli

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