Front Street Station Takes Center Stage

            The emphasis of the update provided by Kent Nichols of Weston & Sampson to the Marion Select Board on the Front Street Pumping Station is seeking solutions within the confines of available funding programs.

            As the town pours over its expensive infrastructural challenges, Tuesday night’s Select Board meeting became an occasion to hear from Nichols and from the Department of Public Works, Meghan Davis and Nathaniel Munafo.

            Nichols said that the update follows up on Marion’s Creek Road pumping station, having landed a grant for the Front Street pumping station from Coastal Zone Management.

            The sewer station built in 1970 and upgraded in 2004 sits on the Tabor Academy campus. It is the largest sewer station in town and being 500 feet from shore is extremely vulnerable to coastal flooding that results from coastal storms.

            Nichols told the Select Board members that the big challenge is providing a much-needed bypass, without which failure at the final point of confluence for all town sewage flows could cripple the town.

            Although elevated, said Nichols, the Front Street station would not withstand new flood projections as a 100-year storm would raise water 16.6 feet, well beyond what the 8-foot ground elevation is built to handle.

            Crucial to the station’s future is a permanent bypass connection that in the case of a catastrophic event would allow town sewer to run from the force main. Marion does not have the portable pumps. The goal, said Nichols, is to reduce the risk of failure by replacing the force main’s inoperable valve.

            The project schedule presented includes: Phase 1 and future Phase 2 preliminary design from November 2021 to December 2021; Phase 1 final design in January 2022; bidding of Phase 1 construction contract from February 2022 to March 2022; construction of Phase 1 from March 2022 to June 2022; and project completion in June 2022.

            Select Board Chairman Norm Hills asked how long must the system be down in order to cut in a replacement valve. Kent said that safely, it would be down between four and six hours.

            A grant from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management is funding 75 percent of the project with Marion matching 25 percent.

            Munafo credited Weston & Sampson for being ahead of its schedule.

            In a 6:30 pm appointment, the Select Board voted to approve Harbormaster Isaac Perry’s request for a change in the Waterways Regulations under No. 7 to add “existing commercial permits may be transferred to marine businesses with the approval of the harbormaster.”

            According to Perry, the proposed changes to the commercial mooring regulations is “very simply, housekeeping.” Perry told the board that this is how commercial permits have been handled since the inception of regulations in 1984.

            In a 6:15 pm appointment, the Select Board voted to approve Police Chief Richard Nighelli’s promotion of Jeffrey Habicht as a full-time police lieutenant, Connor Flynn as a full-time patrol officer, and Sergeant Sean Day and Sergeant Larry Savery as full-time sergeants. Nighelli told the board that Habicht has been instrumental in guiding the department through police reform.

            The board also approved the appointment of Paul J. St. Don to the Cemetery Commission. The other two members are Chairperson Margie Baldwin and Helen Hills.

            In his Town Administrator’s Report, McGrail updated the board on the annual Town Meeting timeline: the deadline for warrant articles is Tuesday, March 15; the warrant will be closed on April 5, sent to the printer and posted on April 6, and finally mailed to residents on April 20. Town Meeting is scheduled for May 9.

            While forecasting that open house and Town Meeting preview dates will be available at the February 1 Select Board meeting, McGrail noted that developer Matt Zuker gave Marion the go-ahead to spend the rest of the $50,000 he funded in relation to the planned residential development for which he sought a zoning change last year to be voted down at Town Meeting.

            Due to concerns over speeding in Marion village, McGrail has formed a traffic-advisory group including himself, Davis, Habicht and town residents including a Tabor Academy representative. At Select Board member John Waterman’s suggestion, McGrail renamed the group a “pedestrian safety group.” The group has hired a consultant to help facilitate its goal to find solutions.

            McGrail reported that Town Counsel Jon Witten endorsed Hills’ idea to ask the towns elected boards to include the Select Board when adopting new policies. Waterman thinks the idea will have greater success with a “tickler system” in which town offices will regularly communicate with boards and committees to ask if there is anything that the Select Board would want to know.

            The Marion Fire Department is receiving $14,750 to help replace expiring gear. Fire Chief Brian Jackvony was thanked for his work in applying for the state grant. The board also voted to accept a donation of $100 to the Marion Fire Department from Robert and Barbara Sanderson.

            McGrail and Finance Director Judy Mooney are preparing a FY23 budget presentation for the Finance Committee on Wednesday, January 26, after which budget hearings will commence. McGrail hopes that the Select Board and Finance Committee can attend departmental meetings.

            One area that McGrail anticipates a budgetary strain is via the police reform that resulted in reclassification of employees.

            The Old Rochester Regional assessment is expected next week.

            Under Action Items, McGrail said that a “complicated problem” at 889 Point Road regarding the responsibility of repairs needs more information and time to sort out. Munafo will consult with Weston & Sampson engineers on the matter, and the item will be on the Select Board’s February 1 meeting agenda.

            The Select Board also approved the ABCC annual report (liquor licenses) and a Water/Sewer commitment of $344.52 for final readings on January 5.

            Passed over were sewer connection applications at 390 Wareham Road and 16 Briggs Lane. Both applicants were recommended to schedule appointments with Munafo.

            Prior to the public meeting, the board held an executive session to discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining with the Marion Police Brotherhood.

            The next meeting of the Marion Select Board is scheduled for Tuesday, February 1, at 6:00 pm.

Marion Select Board

By Mick Colageo

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