Grant Writer Pamela Marean volunteered to change her employment conditions after the controversy surrounding her performance came up during budget season when the Finance Committee wanted to cut the position, citing less than favorable results from Marean.
“I’ve never had someone question my ability as a grant writer,” said Marean. She proposed changing her salaried 20-hour workweek position to an hourly as-needed position as grants come up that department heads want to pursue.
The possible downfall to her proposal, she stated, could be department heads not taking the initiative in reaching out to Marean to work together on researching and pursuing grants.
Board of Selectmen Chairman John Henry said the board responded favorably to Marean’s proposal, and voted to accept her offer. The board will now take current tentative grants for projects under advisement to see which ones Marean will continue to work on with the Town.
“I want to thank you for accepting me for another year anyway,” said Marean, who had the board’s support throughout the prior discussions with the FinCom. “I think this is going to be a win-win situation.”
Also during the meeting, the board voted to follow town counsel’s recommendation to pursue legal action regarding the 3 Cottage Lane matter, voting to seek legal action against the homeowner in hopes that it will compel the homeowners to comply with the Board of Health’s and the building commissioner’s orders to clean up the property and make the structure safe.
Town Administrator Paul Dawson said the 60 days given to take action to improve the property was up as of that evening on June 17, and Dawson said the Town had hoped for significantly more progress than what has occurred up until now. He added that if the structure is not improved, it could be torn down.
The board approved seeking a temporary restraining order and getting a Land Court-ordered time frame for compliance.
“This is not about punishment,” said Dawson. “This is not about singling them out … It’s about compliance.”
Both the Board of Health and Building Commissioner Scott Shippey recommended the action.
“As a town, we’ve been more than lenient and understanding and we have some expectations,” said Selectman Steve Cushing. “We have neighbors that have very legitimate concerns … and it’s a balancing act.”
In other news, Dawson briefed the board on the Sprague’s Cove situation, which now entails that selectmen receive proposals from the Conservation Commission and the Open Space Acquisition Commission as to how to best manage the parcel of wetlands. Selectmen will then have to make a recommendation to Town Meeting as to who will be granted jurisdiction over the future of the wetlands.
Town Meeting back in May denied ConCom’s request for funding to actively manage the wetlands, and a petition has been circulating around town regarding ConCom’s authority over the matter, asking that jurisdiction be given to the Open Space Acquisition Commission.
Dawson said both commissions have two different schools of thought on how best to manage the wetlands, with ConCom wanting an active approach and Open Space preferring a more laissez-faire approach.
The matter will be discussed at the next Board of Selectmen meeting.
Henry brought up a meeting he had on June 9 with Dawson and FinCom Chairman Alan Minard regarding Minard’s concerns over the budget formulation and the relationship between the committee and department heads during the process.
Henry said there is no budget formulation process, per se, and he supports the role of the Finance Committee and values its concerns.
Henry also brought up recent contention between the FinCom and the Fire Department that was stirred up by comments FinCom members made about the fire chief during a prior FinCom meeting. Henry said at that informal meeting with Dawson and Minard, he “fired a warning shot across the bow” of the Finance Committee regarding its criticism of the fire chief.
Having said that, Henry later added, “I had no intention of overthrowing the Finance Committee … I’d be a fool to do that…”
Henry said he did not feel the issue was fully resolved, but he shook hands with Minard and the meeting did not require “fist fighting or calling the cops.”
In other matters, the board approved Shippey’s new fees for solar array installations, following Town Meeting acceptance of the new solar facilities by-law.
Shippey said he researched fees adopted in other Towns and chose the middle road when he set Marion’s solar array building permit fees.
For residential, the fee is set at $60 for the first four panels and $2 per panel thereafter. The commercial fee is set at $100 for the first four panels and $3 per panel thereafter.
The board discussed at length their discomfort over a June 25 circus event planned for Washburn Park, of which some board members were unaware until that evening.
The three selectmen felt that, because the event is a significant event, some sort of permit should have to be issued, or at least the trustees should have to come before the board to announce the event.
In other news, the board approved the transfer of a surplus police vehicle to the Fire Department, and the board heard from Will Saltonstall, an architect representing Tabor Academy, which intends to build a new dormitory and also to tentatively purchase 114 Spring Street as long as the house can be tied into the sewer and water line.
Both Tabor matters will be discussed in detail at the next Board of Selectmen meeting on July 15.
By Jean Perry