Project Rankings ‘Round Corner

            Marion’s spending think tank is heading for the final turn, and the holidays will provide a pause for individual opinions to resonate before the town’s Capital Improvement Planning Committee achieves consensus sometime in January.

            After hearing from the Council on Aging and the Harbormaster Department on November 17, two departments remain that will report their FY23 capital requests and 10-year plans, the Facilities Department on December 1 and the Department of Public Works on December 8.

            CIPC Chairman Paul Naiman asked members to produce their own scoring of Marion’s FY23 capital projects by December 15 with a plan to reconvene on January 5 to “talk about it.”

            As a prelude to presentations to the CIPC, department heads confer repeatedly with Town Administrator Jay McGrail, Finance Director Judy Mooney and a Select Board member in order to best shape their capital requests for the new fiscal year.

            Up first on November 17, COA Director Karen Gregory presented a $10,000 annual capital request to hire an architect to help design the proposed open-sided structure that would cover and protect buses from snow and ice. Gregory explained, this way, buses will not pose a safety hazard with ice or snow on their roofs, and the covering would extend the life of the vehicle.

            The structure would sit behind the Cushing Community Center on a concrete pad that, with the structure, would total approximately $50,000 in construction costs.

            Noting that the structure’s electrical needs will be a component in the funding, McGrail told the CIPC that he spoke with DPW Director Nathaniel Munafo about the parking lot at the Cushing Community Center.

            Select Board member John Waterman called the parking lot “a mess” and said it is “not efficient.”

            CIPC member Casimiro Barros urged town officials to let the planners know of a “hornet’s nest” they will encounter upon excavation.

            “Under the parking lot are massive, massive boulders,” said Barros, tracing them to the reconstruction of Route 6. “Talk to Demi Barros because he knows the history.”

            Any plans to improve the parking lot remain subject to a feasability study that hinges on the future of the adjacent, 40-acre Lockheed-Martin property including a 28-acre footprint of what Waterman described as “a hodgepodge of one-story buildings. … I don’t know if they can be reused.”

            McGrail anticipates the future of the Lockheed-Martin property to be determined a year from now.

            “That doesn’t stop this project, does it?” asked Naiman.

            McGrail assured the CIPC that Lockheed-Martin would not affect the plan for the carport-like structure behind Cushing Community Center. Marion’s COA site sits on a 7 acre parcel on the west side of Route 6 and immediately north of the northeast corner of the expansive Lockheed-Martin property.

            In light of recent efforts to improve the grounds, Waterman questioned how any structure large enough to house buses “would enhance the look of the senior center.”

            McGrail said it has been challenging for Gregory to find a designer and the COA has settled on Yarmouth Port-based Catalyst design the structure. “Ten thousand is probably more than we need to get this thing done right,” said McGrail.

            Gregory’s 10-year plan includes replacement of the walk-in cooler and freezer. The cooler, she said, stopped functioning over a year ago. The COA is looking for any financial opportunity to expand its food service and potentially support a food pantry.

            The building needs new flooring and window replacement in the main room.

            Naiman suggested that McGrail discussed windows with town Facilities Manager Shaun Cormier, noting that the Police Department does not include window replacement in its CIPC plan. He suggested redirecting windows to Cormier’s plan over next few weeks.

            Gregory also listed van replacement. She said that every COA vehicle is subsidized by a grant.

            Also making her wish list is a family gender-neutral bathroom. Earlier on November 17, Gregory said, the Memory Cafe program had a situation where a spouse was not allowed to enter the restroom and therefore could not provide private assistance. “I would like to see it moved up,” she said, referencing a conversation with Cormier.

            McGrail noted that a $100,000 addition to the center will be constructed out the back side of the building this winter. He said the sewer line outside is ready for construction and, when finished, the addition that was funded last year will begin its construction.

            “I would love to see a building addition,” said Gregory.

            “Karen’s programs have lots of participation. She’s only limited by what she can do with her staff,” said McGrail.

            Waterman, whose interest in Marion demographics has been keen since the regional school budget process began, asked what Marion population will do over the next 10 years. Right now, he said, Marion’s average resident is older than the state average.

            “We’re working on getting money for the tri-town enrollment study,” he said.

            McGrail said that the town is waiting for the grant period to reopen to take advantager of work done by the Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management at UMass Boston.

            Harbormaster Isaac Perry’s presentation was met with far less banter, primarily because his requests are more cut and dried and based on the ongoing Marine Center project.

            For FY23, Perry requested $700,000, the 20-percent match of the remainder of the Maritime Center building project that includes grant applications for FY2022 and potentially FY23. The Seaport Economic Council granted Marion $303,000 for design and engineering work. “We’re hoping 80 percent of the entire project will be funded through the Seaport Economic Council,” said Perry.

            To that end, Perry is scheduling two more applications, each for $1,000,000. McGrail explained that $700,000 is more than 20 percent based on the town’s commitment to fund higher than its portion in order to complete the project in a shorter time period.

            In summarizing his 10-year plan, Perry listed: $700,000 for FY23; no request for FY24; for FY25 four outboard motors on a three-year replacement (three through the Harbormaster Department and the fourth via a 75 percent state grant); for FY26 a patrol boat at the 20-year mark; for FY27 a $70,000 replacement of a now-new Ford F250 pickup truck (Perry said F150s at their 10-year mark get $10,000 in trade-in value. … “There are bare-bones pickups,” he said, transferring all radio equipment over from the old trucks in contrast to new police cruisers, for instance. F250s, he said, endure salt while F150s rot.); for FY 28 three outboard motors in keeping with the three-year schedule; for FY29, barge-crane replacement based on a 10-year lifespan; for FY30 a new SUV; and for FY31 the three-year replacement of three outboard motors.

            “Everything we’ve done is covered through the Waterways Account,” said Perry.

            Naiman asked about the maintenance of Marion’s docks. Perry estimates there are three dozen docks (floats) that are built in house and financed on an annual line item. “Those floats pay for themselves in a year and a half,” he said. “On wharfs, things come up, but we handle that through our normal operating budget.”

            Perry said there was a FY19 fee increase to put money away for a new boat. He said there is $222,000 in the Waterways Account with 2022 invoices going out in February and March, projecting $460,000 will come into the account.

            The next meeting of the Marion CIPC will be held on Wednesday, December 1, at 7:00 pm.

Marion Capital Improvement Planning Committee

By Mick Colageo

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