COA Ready for Pavilion, Food Bank

            The Marion Council on Aging and Friends of the Marion Council on Aging put forth a readiness to tackle two projects that could change the community, the pavilion outside the Cushing Community Center and a food bank inside.

            The two items before the Marion Select Board on Tuesday night are the latest in a series of opportunities for the grounds popularly known as the Senior Center to grow its game.

            Between building expansion, the recent installation of a walking track out front, plans to upgrade infrastructural aspects, safer cooking equipment and plans for a large carport-like structure out back, Cushing continues to evolve in response to community needs.

            The Friends of the Marion Council on Aging have raised the needed $25,000 in grant-matching funds in part due to the successful summer evening event held on Front Street overlooking Sippican Harbor.

            “The outpouring has come from so many. It makes one realize what a generous gift the VFW gave the community,” said Merry Conway. “Let’s keep a good thing growing.”

            Grow it will.

            “By spring, we hope to see a new pavilion in the Cushing Community park,” said Harry Norweb of the COA, referring to the 26- by 36-foot pavilion that will sit in the shade of the trees on the south side of the building. The gift, said Norweb, does not include the installation of electric service that the COA plans to contract locally as funds permit.

            The Select Board agreed with the proposed, green color scheme that will mesh with the future installation of benches. The members, Chairman Norm Hills and members Randy Parker and John Waterman voted to accept the gift and to authorize Town Administrator Jay McGrail to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.

            The Select Board also voted to approve the creation of a pilot food bank at the Community Center.

            Karen Gregory and Paul Naiman presented a plan modeled after the Wareham-based Gleason Family YMCA Food Bank. Gleason works with the Boston Food Bank.

            Gregory explained that monetary donation pledges have been made and that a wide range of volunteers will be stepping forward. The program will be evaluated as it goes. The plan is to be open one weekday, one weeknight and one weekend day, set up in the conference room of the main section of the building behind a locked door with only dry goods to start.

            “Once we get our walk-in cooler, we might expand (to perishables),” said Gregory, who envisions a setup like a grocery store. The food bank will be only for Marion residents, and they will be requested to visit no more than weekly.

            During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, COA staff was overworked collecting, sorting, packing, then twice per week presiding at the drive-by service, according to McGrail. “This time, volunteers will operate on the evenings and on weekends,” he said. The plan is to avoid working the everyday staff and instead rely on volunteers who will help run the operation.

            According to McGrail, 20 to 30 families receive food from Sippican Elementary School. Naiman expects a lot of seniors, noting that over 300 residents receive food-stamp benefits.

            Hills asked how the program will be evaluated. McGrail said it will be reviewed with him days in, followed by a presentation to the Select Board at the 60-day mark.

            The board approved the program’s starting plan.

            Jim Parker appeared on behalf of the Kittansett Club which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year by hosting the 67th USGA Senior Amateur Championship from August 25 to September 1.

            The national tournament will be the first at Kittansett since the coastal club hosted the Walker Cup in 1953. The 156-player field, which will have qualified to participate, will play practice rounds on August 25-26, followed by stroke play on the August 27-28 weekend. The low 64 scores advance to match play with the final being played on Thursday, September 1.

            The challenge off the course is the reason Parker, Kittansett COO and GM Steve Mann, and Clarke Gee, a Town of Marion employee and liaison to Kittansett Club were also at the meeting.

            The Select Board was impressed with the amount of consideration given to detail by Parker and the club. Both Fire Chief Brian Jackvony and Chief of Police Richard Nighelli endorsed the plan that Parker brought to the board on Monday night.

            The plan includes limited access to Point Road during the tournament with residential access tags and special parking requests for maintenance personnel.

            The two-section parking area at Kittansett will be reserved for the players. The 78 asphalt spots and 38 more adjacent in the grass overflow area cannot accommodate 156 players, but for the full group, similarly to a PGA Tour event, the tournament schedule is divided into a morning and afternoon wave of tee times, and a valet service will shuffle vehicles forward to best absorb the volume during the transitional hours.

            McGrail said that Sippican Elementary School and the Cushing Community Center could be used for additional parking.

            The board voted to approve 18 temporary parking passes to Kittansett for maintenance personnel in two designated locations off Point Road. The members voted to approve limited access to Point Road, a checkpoint right after Planting Island that can be used as a turnaround point.

            The limited-access hours will be from 5:30 am to 6:30 pm pending weather, and as the field dwindles during match play those hours will dwindle to 6:00 am to 2:00 pm on Wednesday, August 31, and a 6:30 am start for the final day, September 1.

            Two police details were also approved.

            Hills requested an update on planning in June.

            In his Town Administrator’s Report, McGrail told the board that the MultiFlo installation began last week, and a segmented approach designed to limit weather exposure is underway at the Wastewater Treatment Plant lagoon. The first section of lining was laid last week with heat weld performed on Tuesday morning. McGrail reported an admittedly “optimistic goal” that the Waters company will complete the installation of the lining by Christmas.

            On the advice of Town Counsel Jon Witten, McGrail reported that Marion has joined a statewide opioid class-action lawsuit that will yield $537,000,000 over the next 18 years to Massachusetts communities participating.

            The two main reasons Marion signed onto the suit: 1. The town will presumably receive funds for abatement and disorder prevention; 2. The more municipalities that join, the greater the award across the state.

            Marion would receive 0.07 of the 15 percent of the award earmarked for municipalities over the 18-year period. McGrail said it is “very targeted how it can be spent,” and the town’s plan would be to use the funds for Board of Health initiatives in public schools.

            News that ARPA funds cannot be used to match a federal grant threw a wrench into Marion’s plan to use those funds to achieve a 25 percent match for infrastructure. The result, according to McGrail is sewer and water projects over the next five years will require the town to take on debt.

            The Select Board voted to approve the renewal of all licenses including common victualer and alcohol with the understanding that incomplete applications or delinquency in any aspect will hold up the release of those licenses. McGrail thanked Donna Hemphill and Deb Paiva for their assistance in pulling together the necessary information.

            The board voted to accept Town Clerk Lissa Magauran’s estimation of seasonal population at 6,200 total residents. The information is used for the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC.) The board also approved Kittansett’s slate of officers for the purposes of its license with the ABCC.

            The board voted and agreed to sign approvals for NStar dba Eversource for permission, easement and licensing regarding the underground cable/conduit and one manhole for the Town House electrical upgrade.

            The board voted to reappoint Millie Seeberg to a three-year term as a full member to the Marion Cultural Council.

            There will be a Pie & Poinsettia event on December 11 at the Cushing Community Center from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Call 508-748-3570 to reserve a spot.

            Transfer Station fees were approved at $50 (veterans and seniors $40.) Rochester prices will be the same.

            The Select Board Holiday Party will be held on Tuesday, December 14, after a brief board meeting to approve the reconnection for Tabor Academy sewer to the library.

Marion Select Board

By Mick Colageo

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