On the agenda for the new Board of Selectmen is to stay more informed on what the Town’s departments are working on, and on June 28 it held a casual, round table discussion of sorts with the various department heads to hear what they had to say about current projects, future projects, and any foreseeable capital spending on the horizon.
Most important are the “big projects”, said Board of Selectmen Chairman Norm Hills. Also, the board wants to know what the department heads anticipate for projects coming down the pike – “Any potential problems,” Hills added, “and if you need any help from anybody.” But also, of course, “To share information so we know what’s going on.”
For Harbormaster Isaac Perry, “Summer is a pretty busy time of the year for us.”
Tabor Academy donated 400,000 2-millimeter oysters, which Perry received the day before, and he anticipates another 350,000 larger ones in a few weeks from settlement money stemming from the 2003 Bouchard oil spill.
Perry oversaw the in-house construction of three 6-foot by 30-foot floats, which cost the Town about as much as it would cost to buy just one prefabricated float, he said.
“And it’s access,” said Perry. “As you know, shoreline access is tough.” He added that there are 180 small boat spots now at the wharf, saying, “That’s huge. There’s not too may places you can see that many boats in one confined area.”
Shawn Cormier, facilities director, said his department is on track for closing fiscal year 2018, with $4,000 to $6,000 remaining to be returned as free cash. He said, in preparation for the summer, new showers were installed at Silvershell Beach, the roof of the Silvershell facility was replaced and other trim work completed, the cupola rebuilt, and the department continues to upgrade Fire Station 1.
“It’s a real big project. I figure a three-year operation. We’ve got about a year-and-a-half left,” said Cormier. He’s also working on the Music Hall. With the new ceiling tiles all done, next up is the stage area in the fall. The library is getting a new roof and some carpeting, and progress is ongoing.
“The only potential problem I see is town hall,” said Cormier. “[We will need to] talk about where we’re headed in that project.”
Over at Recreation, Jody Dickerson said with the beach now open and summer programs starting, the department is in its busiest time of year as well.
His only potential problem, aside from ongoing needs for storage, he said, is the imminent of the minimum wage increase to $15.
“If you want to continue to have the quality employees … we’re going to have to compensate them,” said Dickerson.
Dickerson announced that the playground at Silvershell is now ADA compliant, and the Town, in addition to sharing a new handicap beach wheelchair with Rochester, is looking into a rollup boardwalk to increase handicap access to the beach.
Fire Chief Brian Jackvony said he has a long capital list, but the new ventilation installment project will be covered in part by a federal grant he acquired totaling $85,000. The funds that Town Meeting appropriated can now go to another project, and Jackvony pointed to the need for a new ambulance a couple years from now, and a replacement of Engine 3, which he estimates at $600,000.
For Police Chief John Garcia, life is good … “now that the winter is over.”
Garcia highlighted the new emergency access route he initiated with Sippican School, and described the new relationship officers are building with Sippican School students.
At first, he said, the kids’ faces looked concerned when the officers started spending time at the school. But after weeks of attending recess and having lunch in the cafeteria, Garcia said, “Now the kids are looking at the officers and wondering if they’re going to hand out stickers on that day.
“They’re really enjoying the time that they’re spending there,” Garcia said on behalf of the officers.
Garcia added that he is starting his search for the new administrative assistant that was added to his FY19 budget, and is establishing a senior outreach program at the Council on Aging.
Karen Gregory’s only concern as director of the COA is storage, she told the board.
She said she has to store medical equipment at the Atlantis Driver facility, which makes it inconvenient because the equipment is used so often.
“We’re not as responsive as we could be,” said Gregory.
Karen Kevelson from the Finance Committee said she and the committee want preliminary budgets in as early as the second week of November and warned the departments about imminent cutbacks.
“We spend a lot of money for a small town and every year we say the same thing: We have to curtail spending. And we spend a lot of money, and on things that we need, but there’s gonna be a point when we’re gonna have to cut back on every department,” she said, not knowing if the FY20 budget will be level-service or level-funded.
Marion School Committee Chairman Christine Marcolini said the committee will be watching as the new homes at Sippican Woods are occupied, hoping the district can easily absorb an increase in enrollment.
“We’re optimistic,” Marcolini said, “but historically, when we’ve had a big bump before, we did have to make some changes.”
Hills said there would be future meetings like this one, saying, “Maybe in the future it’ll have a little more structure to it.”
Marion Board of Selectmen
By Jean Perry