Residents Updated on Town Projects

            The Marion Board of Selectmen’s February 24 Informational Meeting at the Music Hall in Marion was originally meant to give the public its chance to respond to two issues: curbside trash pickup and the town’s new pavement-management plan.

            The meeting’s agenda was expanded to include presentations and question/answer sessions on other topics including: a new Department of Public Works facility; the Village Infrastructure Project; Town House Restoration Project; upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant; the sale of the town’s property at Atlantis Drive.

            Presiding along with Board of Selectmen Chairman Randy L. Parker, Vice Chairman John Waterman and Clerk Norman A. Hills, were Town Administrator Jay McGrail and DPW Director David Willett. Town Planner Gil Hilario and DPW Officer Manager Becky Tilden assisted in the audio-visual presentation.

            McGrail made the first presentation on curbside trash and recycling pickup. Questions and clarifications ranged from interpretation of the pickup chart to one-way roads, the size of bins and multiple responses lauding the town for improving its services. 

            McGrail praised the DPW for facilitating emergency trash pickups and also invited individuals in unresolved situations to contact his office directly in order to find solutions.

            For eight weeks, said McGrail, the town sent out blast emails to keep residents up to date. He stated that the town also has a solution for leaf disposal that will include other yard debris. He also said he would find out if the town’s website can create a function so that a resident can enter an address and obtain its curbside pickup schedule.

            Willett presented the DPW’s Pavement Management Plan, a “five-component process and we’ve gone through three components,” he said, explaining the goal of the project to maximize the life of pavement by a data collection from a series of photos taken every 10 feet of every town-managed public roadway.

            “Nowadays it’s all done by computer,” he said of the system, which assigns a numeric value of the depreciation distress curve based on years of pavement life.

            Each section of road is rated and a plan emerges based on budget and priority on long-term value. The theory is to spend $1 per square foot in preservation instead of waiting 10-15 years and spending $5 or $6 per square foot on major repair.

            Unfortunately, the plan does not address sidewalks, curbs or infrastructure so residents expressed concern that poorly conditioned walking areas will be left behind.

            Willett said the report, which will appear on Marion’s website, shows that only a third of the town’s roads need major rehabilitation. Marion’s Road Service Rating of 75.54 is significantly better than what Willett had previously encountered in other towns.

            If the town addressed every road need immediately, the total cost of maintenance would be $2.1 million. A five-year projection in present-day dollars comes to $171,000 based on maintaining Marion’s current 75.54 road surface rating. If the town waits until major rehabilitation is required, that number soars to over $300,000.

            Concern was expressed over private companies digging up roads and doing poor patchwork, especially after the town puts money into road maintenance.

            “That’s one of the biggest parts of it. When we put our plan together, they’ll get their shot at getting their infrastructure,” said Willett.

            Waterman added that, if the town resurfaces a road, no one is allowed to disturb it for five years, “so we hope to get all this (infrastructural) work done before we resurface.”

            Willett was asked if the town website has a portal to report road-safety issues, and specifically at the corner of Front Street and County Road. Tilden said residents can email the DPW on the town’s website.

            “If it’s an emergency, I’ll try to patch it myself,” said Willett, inviting residents to let him know “if you have something that you consider dangerous or just a headache.”

            Waterman presented the Village Infrastructure Project, a capital-improvement plan that in 2013 began as a five-phase project starting with work at South Street and Ryder Lane. It was suspended in 2015 with no work performed since.

            Now the finances are far more challenging, not only because the remaining $15 million balance would amount to $20 million via inflation according to Waterman, but because the town is now facing a situation severely limiting the scope of funding.

            “We need to take this project and pull out of it one $5-6 million project,” he said, noting that the town has another engineering firm evaluating the situation. “We have to issue debt to finance it, but we’d like to avoid taxing… and time it in a way that the debt is issued around the time the Sippican School debt is rolling off.”

            McGrail presented the Town House Restoration Project, in which $800,000 in funding will begin work “any day now”. The building will be repainted and “hopefully” re-sided, he said. “The building will look like the library. It’ll look pretty much new.”

            The town is requesting $300,000 to waterproof the basement. A third phase, in partnership with the Sippican Historical Society, will renovate the first floor with “as much private-donation money as we possibly can.”

            The project will eventually get to the point where second and third floors will not be utilized.

            Waterman said there is no public money in this next phase and that Sippican Historical Society will match fundraising up to a half million dollars.

            It was asked if the town might rent out the building’s upper floors. As of now, the focus is on sprinklers in those areas. Until the Town has the funding, Waterman said, the plan is to fit all the services of the Town House on one floor.

            Hills presented the planned upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

            The bid came in above the cost and Marion re-bid the project and has now awarded the contract and held three meetings with the contractor and the Environmental Protection Agency.

            Hills reported that Lagoon 1 had been drained, cleaned out, lined and put back in service, and the wastewater that Lagoon No. 1 cannot handle will go to Lagoon No. 2.

            “You should be seeing this summer a lot more work out there,” he said.

            After questions were solicited, McGrail expressed surprise, citing the $8 million cost of the project.

            McGrail reported that 15 to 16 firms pulled the bid on the town’s property at Atlantis Drive, which the Board of Selectmen will evaluate.

            “It’s not a fire sale. We’re not looking to get rid of it. We have a lot of work to do and we don’t want to do it,” said McGrail, who estimated the appraisal of the property at $600,000.

            There is asbestos in the roof, and removing it in a roof replacement could cost $200,000, he said. A bid under $600,000 might be attractive based on what work is proposed.

            Parker presented the new DPW headquarters proposed at Benson Brook Road, a 10,000 square foot facility with handicapped bathrooms, ventilations, gas drafts, sprinklers based on the size.

            “The existing facility is not in good shape,” he said. “You’ve been very generous to give the DPW new vehicles, and we’d like to take care of those.” That will include inside storage and hopefully the elimination of drainage from cleaning onto Route 6. Waterman added the board also hopes to improve the storage of salt.

            The Board of Selectmen will ask at town meeting for $150,000 to do planning and facility design in order to be able to project an accurate building cost.

            “When we (specify) the building, we’ll have to come back to voters for approval,” said Waterman.

            In presenting on the Regional Disposal District with Carver and Wareham, Waterman said that if an outside town is not going to operate the Benson Brook facility, there is no point of Marion’s membership in CMW.

            Marion deeded the facility to CMW but with the caveat that as soon as CMW stops operating it as a transfer station Marion has the right to take it back for a dollar. Marion is looking to establish an arrangement so that its citizens who do not want to use it, will not have to pay for it.

            Heretofore, Marion trash went to Covanta for free, but that deal is up and now Marion will pay $77 per ton, a number the town is happy with, considering other area towns pay over $90 per ton.

            McGrail assured the attendees that current employees will manage the facility and that there would be no new hires in connection with the transfer station.

            Hill concluded the meeting by presenting the Route 6 Study as part of the town’s Master Plan. A Transportation Circulation Task Force has been set up, and Mattapoisett, Fairhaven and Wareham also wanted to participate.

            Marion’s turnout at meetings has been dominant, though, with 145 in attendance, as opposed to other towns with 30-40.

            Waterman stressed the importance that the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SERPEDD) focuses on Marion and does not get bogged down into a larger plan for Route 6. He said it will do no good for the town if the issues facing the Front Street and Spring Street intersections get lost amidst regional interests.

            The Board of Selectmen met on February 26 in joint session with the Marion Finance Committee and the ORR School Committee, and Sippican School Committee. The board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, March 3, and another joint session on Wednesday, March 4, with FinCom and the Public Library.

Marion Board of Selectmen

By Mick Colageo


            On Page 20 of the February 27, 2020 issue of Wanderer, the article beginning on Page 16 titled, “Residents Updated on Town Projects,” contained incorrect information on the Wastewater Treatment Plant due to a reporting error. At the February 24 Informational Meeting at the Marion Music Hall, Board of Selectmen member Norman A. Hills presented a progress update and stated that the contractor and its subcontractors were completing EPA-required paperwork and that the work expected to start soon will not be obvious, taking place mainly inside buildings with upgrades to associated piping to the lagoons. That work, he said, is expected to last throughout the summer with work on Lagoon 1 ready to begin in August. Lagoon 1 will be taken off-line, making Lagoon 2 the primary working lagoon. At that time, Lagoon 1 will be drained, have its residue removed, at which point modifications will be made and the lagoon lined. Upon completion of the Lagoon 1 work, it will become the primary service lagoon with Lagoon 2 being used as its emergency overflow back-up. Lagoon 3 will remain as a pond. Hills stated that, if after 10 or 15 years, Lagoon 3 is no longer needed, then alternate uses will be reevaluated. The town has until January 2021 to complete the lining sequence and get Lagoon 1 back online.

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