Grant writer Pamela Marean briefed the Marion Board of Selectmen Tuesday night on the status of the town’s exploration of acquiring GIS software services for land use issues.
“Anecdotally, we know that it will save a lot of time, save a lot of money, and save a lot of effort,” Marean said. “But I would have to say more than that to secure the grant. I would have to spell out how what we propose to do would enhance services and reduce costs.”
Marean explained that her inquiries thus far have yielded little in the way of concrete decisions, as purchasing GIS software, licenses, and resources is not a prepackaged proposition.
“When I ask what is available to us, it’s a matter of, well, what do you want?” Marean said. “When I ask what a grant can afford us, it becomes a matter of, well, what do you need?” Marean said that services exist enabling the town’s analysis of habitats, bodies of water, roadways, and more, but that Marion could use a potential grant to “enhance those layers of information that are already available to us in maps to get custom programming based on what the town wants.”
Marean added that Rochester is “very interested in collaborating” with Marion on GIS acquisition and use, while she has heard that “Mattapoisett is looking for a more complex system.” She said that training and licenses alone could cost upward of $25,000.
The application deadline for the GIS grant is November 20. Marean said that she is seeking a “list of the people I should talk to” in terms of focusing Marion’s needs to inform her grant proposal. Marean said that Building Commissioner Scott Shippey has been “very vocal about how a GIS system would greatly enhance his ability to do his job.”
The Selectmen advised Marean to speak with the Conservation Commission, the Planning Board, the Police and Fire departments, and, most urgently, John Rockwell, who is fluent in GIS software and an expert on Marion land use issues. Town Administrator Paul Dawson said he would invite Rockwell to the Board’s next meeting to discuss the grant.
Later in the meeting, during his report, Dawson updated the Selectmen on the town’s plans to bid out private ambulance services for the town, “strictly to get pricing and be prepared” pending a fall Town Meeting vote on Marion’s EMS budget. He also noted that the town has begun interviewing candidates for its new Facilities Manager position. Meanwhile, Dawson said that public drinking water has re-tested “perfect” after the recent discovery of “slightly elevated” counts of coliform bacteria. He closed by telling the Selectmen that Marion has yet to receive approval of a $1 million MassWorks grant crucial to its Village Area Capital Improvement Project, but that indications are positive.
“We continue to be frustrated with the lack of a response,” Dawson said. “We will continue to push [for a response], as we need to get this resolved so we can get the contracts signed.”
Elsewhere on the agenda, the Selectmen approved:
A sewer connection application at 170 Wareham Street;
One-day wine and malt licenses for a Buzzards Bay Habitat for Humanity event at the Music Hall on December 5 and a Gleason Family YMCA Wine Tasting fundraiser at the Music Hall on October 18; and
One-day all-alcohol licenses for a VFW #2425 event on October 5 and a wedding reception at the Marion Social Club on October 27.
The Selectmen also commended outgoing public servants Nicholas Grace (Marion Affordable Housing Trust) and John Crosby (Carver-Marion-Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District) for their years of invaluable work on behalf of the residents of Marion.
By Shawn Badgley