Fall Focus on DPW Funding Plan

            The Town of Marion plans to dedicate a Select Board meeting in February 2022 to present a funding plan for the proposed new Department of Public Works facility to take to Town Meeting next spring.

            Speaking to the Select Board during its Zoom meeting Tuesday night, Town Administrator Jay McGrail said that the plan would include to hold another Open House in the spring but earlier in the day to get more citizens to see the current facility that McGrail referred to as “dilapidated.”

            A visit to the existing group of circa 1950s structures relocated and assembled along the southeast side of Route 6 on the same property as the water tower was conducted on November 6 as part of a tour that began with a dedication of the newly renovated Town House exterior and its ongoing interior renovation, as attendees heard words from Will Tifft and Frank McNamee of the Sippican Historical Society.

            Residents then drove or rode in a Council on Aging bus to the site of the new Marine Center at Island Wharf for an Open House there, then to tour the current DPW facilities and finally visited the site of the proposed new DPW at Benson Brook.

            “It’s a large ask so we really need to hit the ground running on this,” said McGrail about plans for 2022. He told the Select Board that Finance Director/Town Accountant Judy Mooney has run numbers on scenarios of $2,000,000 debt and $3,000,000 debt over 20 years.

            Town Facilities Manager Shaun Cormier will act as owner’s project manager for the DPW project, saving Marion $120,000.

            While the new Harbormaster’s facility will be a shovel-ready project come spring with some overlap expected, the DPW project is only at a feasibility-study point. McGrail anticipates entering into a contract with an architect next July to prepare for bid with November 2022 as the best-case scenario for a bidding timeline. The project, however, would not be ready to start construction until late winter 2022 or early spring 2023.

            The next steps for the Marine Center projects the completion of design and construction documents from Catalyst Architects in the spring. McGrail said that the town will make two separate, $1,000,000 grant applications to the state’s Seaport Economic Council and must produce $700,000, its 20 percent match for construction funding.

            If all goes well at Spring Town Meeting and with the Seaport Economic Council, construction bidding would occur in the spring of 2023 and would start in the fall of 2023.

            McGrail told the Select Board that 2021 roadway improvements are evident, and the plan had been to have DPW Director Nathaniel Munafo and DPW engineer Meghan Davis make recommendations on remaining Chapter 90 funding, but with limited time before cold weather ends the paving season those decisions have been pushed off to late winter and early spring when the board can decide on projects. West Wareham-based Rochester Bituminous agreed to hold bid prices until the spring.

            Because the bid came in lower than budgeted, the town intends to use existing funding to resume unfinished work in the spring of 2022.

            Projects completed or underway include: overlay on Water Street south to Lewis Street; Holmes Street from Pleasant to Water Street; patch and overlay on Parlowtown Road; mill work and overlay on School Street (which just happened on Tuesday), and mill and overlay pavement repair in the area of 362 Front Street.

            McGrail said there is a push to complete the egress project from Sippican School out to Route 6 by the end of December. McGrail told Waterman that he will follow up on the Hiller Street project.

            McGrail publicly recognized Old Rochester Regional School Committee Chairperson Heather Burke, a Marion resident, for spearheading the effort to unify the tri-towns behind the amended regional school agreement that passed on all three Town Meeting floors.

            Burke “worked tirelessly … for the last three years,” according to McGrail, “educating all of our boards, the (Capital Improvement Planning Committee) …”

            Burke took the floor at both Marion and Mattapoisett town meetings. “It took a lot of hard work on her part, getting (the articles) on the warrants,” said McGrail, who also thanked Superintendent of Schools Mike Nelson. “We’re paid help, but volunteers like you guys and Heather …”

            Select Board member John Waterman called Burke’s effort “incredible. She just stuck with it until it got done.”

            The Select Board voted to send Burke a “Thank You” note for her effort.

            The board’s vote as to whether to have a split tax rate between commercial and residential properties in Marion was originally scheduled to be heard on Tuesday in a scheduled public hearing with Linda Dessert of the Board of Assessors, but that hearing was only opened to continue it to Tuesday, November 23, at 3:00 pm.

            The Town of Marion has never had a split tax rate, according to McGrail.

            The Select Board voted to approve a Christmas and New Year’s holiday schedule that will close town buildings for a half day on Thursday, December 23, and Thursday, December 30, at noon with full-day closures on Friday, December 24 and Friday, December 31. Both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Saturday.

            The board voted to approve water/sewer commitments in the amounts of $1,000 (new service) and $647.41 and $736.23 (final readings).

            In reviewing Veterans Day observances held November 11 at Old Landing and featuring speaker James Holmes of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, McGrail praised the performance of Hannah Moore’s Sippican School Band, calling it “an awesome job.”

            The DPW and Donna Hemphill were thanked for their efforts in the Veterans Day presentation at Old Landing. The event continued with a veterans’ luncheon at the Cushing Community Center, where Jon Henry spoke on the history of Veterans Day.

            The Select Board will hold a brief public meeting on Tuesday, December 14, at 6:00 pm at the Cushing Community Center, followed by a Holiday Party for town employees.

            The next meeting of the Marion Select Board will be held on Tuesday, November 23, at 3:00 pm.

Marion Select Board

By Mick Colageo

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