In spite of the best efforts of Selectman Dickerson (who is also the Recreation Director) and Administrative Assistant Donna Hemphill, nearly a year of fund raising, and countless hours of reaching out to the public in various ways, Marion’s Fourth of July fireworks display has an $18,000 shortfall. Dickerson asked for assistance in thinking through next steps that might help inspire residents and businesses to dig a bit deeper but barring that, asked when the cutoff date should be set for pulling the plug on 2014 fireworks. Board members and Town Administrator Paul Dawson concurred that a RFQ could go out with the caveat that if funding wasn’t secured by June 6, the fireworks would not happen this summer.
Chief Lincoln Miller of the Marion Police Department informed the board that the police department passed accreditation on May 1 and is the only police department in all of Plymouth County to have achieved this esteemed certification. He said that there are 159 standards that must be met in order to pass the regulations of a peer review commission. Miller said that two officers had gone above the call of duty to help the department score well. Those officers are Karen Ballinger and John Garcia. Such areas as policy development, prisoner and evidence handling, emergency planning and disciplinary actions, and top to bottom oversight in all areas are reviewed in the process. The board said it would single them out with certificates of appreciation. Miller said it was the combined efforts of everyone on the force that came together to make this happen.
Other agenda items moved along quickly through the meeting. Approved were requests from Tabor Academy for extended outdoor entertainment on June 7; Jean DaSilva for the Feast of St. Anthony on June 8; VFW for a one-day alcohol license for May 31; and Music Hall Advisory Committee to increase members from five to seven.
A water abatement request for 24 Pine Hill Lane was vetoed by the board, noting that they have rules in place that establish a 30-day period for such requests. In this case, the applicant failed to make the request within the timeframe of the policy.
A request by South Shore Race Management to use public roads on September 21 was sent back to them for more information on the purpose of the race and a mandate that they use a race course that is already well established in the town. Chief Miller was on hand to say that they had requested that part of the course include Converse Road. Citing safety concerns, Miller and the board agreed to refuse permission of that area. Dawson will contact the race organizers to get and give clarification.
There was some conversation with public input on the subject of management of contract negotiations and other financial considerations regarding the solar array scheduled for construction at the town landfill site. Steve Kokkins, 72 Cove Circle, came before the board asking them to consider RFP Evaluation Committee members who possessed strong financial backgrounds and expertise in energy contracts. His rationale was concern that the town might not get the best deal possible with a smart developer in the absence of intellectual fortitude in those areas. The board was prepared to appoint Norm Hills, Jennifer Francis, and Bill Saltonstall to the newly-formed committee. Dawson lobbied for the acceptance of these residents, noting their unique talents and willingness to volunteer.
In the case of Marion, Dawson said that the town would not be a customer of the energy, but that residents, as well as businesses, would be able to benefit and that it was in the interest of the developer to put a good package together for the town or else it wouldn’t work out. In the end, the board decided to move forward with the appointments but to bring in additional expertise if they deemed it necessary to do so once they receive the contract package.
Dawson brought before the selectmen the need to increase the contract for road repairs and improvements associated with River Road, Spring Street, Point Road and Pleasant Street. The amended contract will increase the price tag by $39,000 for a total of $599,700. Chairman Henry said that while they were considering the amendment he was looking even further into the future when sewer connections would be needed. After some lengthy conversation about drainage and sewer needs, the board decided to approve the increase for now while asking the engineering firm to include designs that allow for future upgrades.
Earlier in the evening, the board reorganized their areas of responsibility for the coming year. Selectmen Henry is now the Chairman while also holding positions on SE Mass Commuter Rail Committee and SRPEDD. Selectmen Cushing is now the board clerk as well as Community Preservation Committee, Capital Planning Committee, Music Advisory Committee, Marion Land Fill, and collective bargaining. Selectmen Dickerson, who will continue on the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, is now Vice Chairman of the board, in addition to Marion Pathways Committee, and School Committee.
Dawson gave his report to the selectmen that included the curious goings on at Washburn Park. He brought pictures he had recently taken in what he termed “vandalize” on a large scale that had taken place. He said that the police, neighbors and regular users of the park were all dumbfounded as to who would have cut down trees and filled in the pond. But probably the bigger question is why. Ongoing investigations will take place, and the public will be asked to be watchful.
He also reported that House Bill 3605 has been signed by the governor. This will now allow Marion to treat its out-of-town water customers the same as in-town customers. This is especially important when customers are in arrears. The town will now be able to place liens on property falling into this category.
Dawson said that the wind power project in now 95 percent sold and fully permitted with NSTAR. He said that financing of the project is nearly complete and construction could begin as soon as late 2015. The construction phase will take six months, he said.
Selectman Dickerson asked if the board would consider establishing a committee to bring stakeholders together for more in-depth conservations for the purchase of a new fire truck. He said that although the board had been in favor of the purchase, during town meeting the Finance Committee had not and the town did not pass the warrant article. He suggested that one selectman, one Finance Committee member and three fire department personnel could comprise the committee. Henry and Cushing agreed that something needed to be done to help with this important and necessary piece of equipment, but they weren’t sure if establishing a committee now was best. Henry said they could put it on the agenda for further discussion during their next meeting.
Memorial Day will be celebrated on Monday at 9:00 am, with a parade stepping off from the Music Hall.
Finally Chairman Henry applauded public health nurse, Kathy Downey ,who recently earned a PhD in nursing from the University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth.
The Marion Board of Selectmen will meet again on June 3 at 7:00 pm.
By Marilou Newell