Having engaged in more intense scrutiny of 10 applications for FY22 Community Preservation funding on February 26, the Marion Community Preservation Committee heads toward its March 5 public hearing. CPC votes will determine which projects are taken to Town Meeting floor this spring and in what amounts.
Applications include seven made by the Town of Marion and one each by the Sippican Historical Society, Sippican Women’s Club, and Elizabeth Taber Library.
Before beginning the public hearing, the committee will, according to its March 5 agenda, review and vote to support the selectmen’s request for a Town Meeting article allowing CPA funds previously approved for waterproofing the front part of the Town House basement to be used for its entire basement.
Marion is looking to use CPC funding to nearly complete its Town House renovations, including $90,000 for the Annex building exterior and Main Street entrance, which have been supported thus far by public and private sources. If successful, the only remaining related project will be the outdated concrete steps to the Main Street-side doors.
The Main Street-side project was originally estimated at $221,000 but was lowered to a $90,000 request. It still bids for $21,000 in design-and-bid documents, $22,000 for mahogany doors, and $21,000 for windows, with the remainder paying for paint, siding trim, and related construction.
The town has declared the entire structure a historic preservation restriction, an application that sits with the state for approval, according to Town Administrator Jay McGrail. The goal, McGrail told the CPC, is to move all employees to the first floor and potentially rent out the upper floor. The construction will strive to replicate the original design, and handicap accessibility will remain the same.
CPC member Margie Baldwin asked if the committee should anticipate future requests, noting that there are four already. McGrail confirmed that to be the case, citing the removal of the vault in the Town Clerk’s Office and related work. “We’re exhausting every funding source we can to get this done,” said McGrail.
The town has also applied for $5,375 for veterans’ graves markers in an effort to finish an ongoing project. Jody Dickerson explained that the town purchased 550 markers in 2020 for the five cemeteries in Marion, but more graves were missing veterans’ markers than originally thought, going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. The goal is to start the job when funds become available on July 1 and finish it by November 11, Veterans Day.
At least in its current form, the application least likely to succeed is a $30,000 request by the Recreation Department to purchase equipment to help fund the Marion Rec’s Community Sailing program. The reason is that CPA funding is limited in scope to permanently anchored items, which rules out boats, kayaks, and the like.
Recreation Department Director Jody Dickerson told the committee that the town’s learn-to-sail program started in the 1980s and has been funded over the years by the Friends of Marion Recreation.
CPC Chairman Jeff Doubrava noted himself as a ground-floor member of the program and encouraged program representative Chris Collings to resubmit a more applicable pitch next year, calling it “maybe a great idea that’s not quite ripe yet.”
Marion Historical Commission has applied for $30,000 in CPA funding to continue with the town’s historical and cultural inventory. In commission chair Meg Steinberg’s absence, Will Tifft told the CPC that the project conforms exactly to Marion’s Master Plan.
Judy Rosbe of the Sippican Historical Society said that, while the society did the last such survey, she considers it “more appropriate for the commission to do it, though we support it greatly.”
Doubrava articulated concern that the project’s annual reappearance among CPA funding applications takes on the look of maintenance, but Tifft assured Doubrava that CPA funding is common for such a project. The state matches funding, and each application represents a different area of the town to be surveyed.
Leslie Piper appeared on behalf of the Sippican Historical Society to request $25,000 to support the society’s ongoing archival catalog, specifically to hire a professional archivist to hopefully complete the archives’ digitization of all Marion’s history. “They are of no value to the town if they’re not available online,” said Piper. “Most research is done online these days.”
The $27,000 application filed by Candy’s Tavern to restore the 1812-built stage-coach stop acquired by Sippican Women’s Club in 1923 is limited in consideration to approximately $4,200, considered a loose bottom line for the restoration of the building’s front and kitchen doors. Gable vents were also sought; however, not being part of the original design, they do not apparently qualify.
Silvershell Beach is looking for $10,000 to replace the split-post and rail fence originally installed in 1991 after Hurricane Bob. The fence, located along Front and Lewis Streets, is considered to be beyond repair.
Taber Library requested $4,866 to complete a project, 70 percent funded by the town and partly by the library, to add four granite books under the benches that will reflect diversity among authors.
Randy Parker’s suggestion for an estimate on concrete, as opposed to the asphalt proposed for a walking path on the grounds of the Cushing Community Center at the cost of $3,500, yielded $18,000 more, according to Harry Norweb’s research. Besides, Norweb received feedback suggesting walkers prefer the lower impact of asphalt.
The next meeting of the Marion Community Preservation Committee is scheduled for March 5 at 5:00 pm.
Marion Community Preservation Committee
By Mick Colageo