Hot? Not inside Marion’s historic Town House building.
As the Wolf Moon hung high above the frozen landscape of Marion on January 2, inside the ye olde Town House the temperature was a chilly 51°F. The furnace had finally gone caput!
A major agenda item for the Board of Selectmen was next steps in not only providing staff and visitors to the building with a comfortable temperature in which to conduct business, but also in keeping pipes and other vital systems in the structure from damage due to extremely low internal temperatures.
Facilities Manager Sean Cormier discussed with the selectmen stopgap measures that could be used to provide the building with heat while a new boiler is purchased and installed.
Cost estimates for a new boiler were $74,000 but as town administrator Paul Dawson pointed out, there would be other associated expenses that would bring the sum closer to $100,000. Cormier said that a temporary heating solution could run anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 per week.
Dawson said that he would contact the state to let them know about the emergency and the need to bypass regulated purchasing protocols given the emergency at hand.
The selectmen approved Dawson’s request. They also agreed to move forward on adding a line item to transfer funds for the new heating system to a newly announced special town meeting in February.
Regarding that special town meeting, it was brought up during discussions regarding a moratorium on pot sales in Marion.
The subject of requesting a moratorium on the soon-to-be-legislated “adult use marijuana” state laws prompted appearances by Planning Board Chairman Eileen Marum, Karen Walega of the Board of Health, and attorney Cheryl Sbarra, director of law and policy for the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards.
Marum said that given the short window between when the state’s regulations would become law in March and the first applications for opening retail establishments in April would be accepted, there simply wasn’t time to write bylaws. She asked the selectmen to set a special town meeting date with a warrant article that would ask voters to request a temporary moratorium from the state, thus giving the town’s various boards sufficient time to write bylaws.
Marum said that since Marion’s voters had approved the use of recreational marijuana, the town now had to go through a two-pronged process if they wanted to ban it completely. The first step in that process would be a warrant article asking voters to put the question on a ballot in an upcoming election cycle. Tonight, she asked for support on a moratorium giving the town time to weigh its options.
Sbarra came forward and said that Attorney General Maura Healey had been quickly granting requests from cities and towns granting moratoriums until the end of December 2018. “You can prohibit the sale of marijuana in town, but it is a more tedious process,” Sbarra said. She also said that those municipalities that had voted against the legal use of marijuana did not have to go through such lengths to ban it totally from their communities.
Regarding bylaws, Sbarra said that as long as local bylaws were reasonable and didn’t conflict with state regulations, passage would be easier.
The selectmen were in agreement that a moratorium should be sought and accepted a draft warrant article that Marum presented.
Dawson suggested the selectmen set the date of February 15 for a special town meeting. That special session would now have two warrant articles – monies to cover Facility Department expenses associated with a new boiler for the Town House and whether or not to seek a moratorium on pot sales in Marion.
In other business, Dawson said that during the next selectmen’s meeting candidates for the vacant council on aging directorship would be interviewed. Dawson also said that he had not been able to find a temporary replacement to fill the position of Department of Public Works Superintendent. The selectmen agreed that the position should be advertised.
On the theme of vacancies, Jody Dickerson announced that he would not be seeking another term as selectman in the May elections.
“I’ve given a quarter of my life to the town,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson thanked all the department heads he has worked with over the years with a special nod to Administrative Assistant Deb Paiva for helping him. Of Dawson Dickerson said, “Paul has the most thankless job in any community … he has been the most professional administrator I’ve worked with.” Dickerson also thanked the townspeople for their support but added with tongue in cheek that his fifteen years had been longer than some sentences handed down for crimes.
The next meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen is scheduled for February 6 at 7:00 pm in the town house conference room.
Marion Board of Selectmen
By Marilou Newell