Road Status Remains Up in Air

            Evidence was unearthed supporting the belief that Cross Neck Road is at least partly a public way, but arguments and data presented at the April 6 meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen fell short of concluding that the entire road is public.

            Marion resident David Gulley appeared before the selectmen seeking an update on behalf of the Cross Neck Road Homeowners Association.

            What is at stake is whether Gulley and his fellow association members will gain assistance from the town with a collection of water in the roadway, the result of an owner’s deflection of water that had been running through a storm drainpipe and onto property until it was purchased in October 2019.

            If it is determined that the west end of Cross Neck Road to where it meets Point Road is, in fact, a public way – there seems to be no debating that the east end of Cross Neck Road is public – then residents will be entitled to services provided by the Public Works Department.

            Gulley told the selectman he was informed after correspondence with Town Administrator Jay McGrail and Town Counsel Jon Witten that the road is a public way, but any repair projects would fall under capital items, so there are no funding guarantees.

            Since then, Gulley said he was told that funds have not been budgeted, but he did concede that the road has gotten much more professional attention in the wake of recent rainstorms.

            McGrail reported on an October 2020 opinion from town counsel saying it does clearly state it is the easterly section in the 1930-1934 land-court decision. As for the west end of the road where the problem lies, McGrail admitted that there might be “no definitive answer.”

            Having served on the Conservation Commission, Selectman Norm Hills cited the Wetlands Protection Act and cautioned against the idea that water can be directed away from wetlands at the whim of residents.

            “Being the nosy guy that I am, I’ll interject myself in this and help try to get it resolved,” he said.

            While presenting information via screen share on Zoom, Gulley clarified that the association is not responsible for maintaining the road. “That’s not the purpose of the association,” he said, defining its reason for being to maintain the septic system that runs under the road. He also noted that the association does not represent owners of Nos. 125, 130, 174 and 175.

            Board of Selectmen Chairman Randy Parker suggested McGrail review the matter with town counsel, while it’s presumed that Hills will seek comment from the Conservation Commission.

            Marion’s ambulance billing rates have not been increased since 2013, according to Fire Chief Brian Jackvony whose request that the town adopt the Plymouth County average rates as of November 5, 2020, was approved by the selectmen.

            Average rates across the state include: Basic Life Support at $1,379 (Medicare/Medicaid $390); Advanced Life Support at $1,921 (Medicare/Medicaid $469); and Advanced Life Support II at $2,009. Marion’s old rate has been below state averages at $851. By comparison, Abington’s rate is $1,650.

            McGrail noted that the new rates will only affect those with private insurers, as Medicaid and Medicare rates are capped, plus Marion can assist residents with hardship cases. McGrail estimates that three or four hardship cases have reached his desk during the last two years.

            The Board of Selectmen voted to close the Annual Town Meeting Warrant, a process that began shortly after Labor Day 2020. McGrail estimates the warrant took 70 percent of his time and thanked Finance Director Judy Mooney and Administrative Assistant Debra Paiva for the role she played.

            Article 13, a vote on policy role of selectmen representative on committees and subcommittees, will be updated and officially adopted by the selectmen. While John Waterman participates in Finance Committee meetings, he does not vote. Hills and Parker, on the other hand, are elected members of other boards and do vote.

            That topic led to discussion on DPW Engineer Meghan Davis’ role as treasurer for the Mattapoisett River Valley Water District, a role the town is apparently looking to end considering Marion’s minor role in the MRV and the large amount of time Davis needs to prepare reports.

            Police Chief Richard Nighelli reported to the selectmen on his department’s reaccreditation, something done every three years, including successful review of 270 mandatory standards and 125 optional standards.

            “It really is a team effort, and I applaud our team. It really is a testament to them,” said Nighelli. “We appreciate all the support that we get not only from the board but from the community.”

            In his Town Administrator’s Report, McGrail discussed the work Town Planner Gil Hilario has been doing to secure grant funding with Marion’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access plan and Hazard Mitigation Plan in conjunction with the Woods Hole Group. The latter will help fund an elevated Creek Road Pump station.

            On Monday, April 26, at 6:00 pm, a new presentation will be made on Zoom for the Harbormaster facility. McGrail said the new plan, scaled down from last summer’s presentation at a public meeting, is ready for public consumption.

            The selectmen voted to approve three appointments.

            Alanna Nelson was appointed to Cape and Vineyard Electric Collaborative (CVEC). Marion’s commitment as a CVEC member requires providing a member to its board. Bill Saltonstall stepped down from the position and recommended Nelson.

            Bruce Hebbel was appointed to fill a three-year vacancy as an associate member on the Conservation Commission. Hebbel has served on Marion’s Conservation Commission in two prior stints and was enthusiastically recommended by Hills.

            Hannah Moore was appointed to the Memorial Day Committee, an item McGrail was surprised to learn. “She does a lot for Memorial Day; I had no idea she wasn’t on the committee,” he said, citing her service to the event.

            The selectmen approved Water/Sewer billing commitments in the amounts of $986,936.19; $957,346.07; $27,613.17; and $977.61.

            Three donations were approved by the selectmen.

            Margie Baldwin’s proposal of a memorial bench at Silvershell Beach in memory of Dagmar Unhoch, who passed away on June 30, 2020, has been accepted. A beloved citizen, Unhoch was known to pick up trash around the beach during the winter and swam daily at high tide in the summer.

            A donation of $23,850 to the Fire Department/EMA for the transportation and treatment of injured patients, and a donation to the Recreation Department of an 8-foot fiberglass skip valued at $300 value and in good condition, was also accepted.

            A “pre-Town Meeting meeting” is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4, at 5:00 pm in lieu of the selectmen’s regular meeting. Town Meeting is being held on Monday, May 10. The next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Tuesday, April 20, at 4:00 pm.

Marion Board of Selectmen

By Mick Colageo

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