Town Approaches Road to Renovate Town House

The Town of Marion has started its exploration of the latest version of a Town House renovation project – one that is more piecemeal in nature – that would take a more gradual approach, spreading out the cost, and improvements, over longer periods of time.

Marion Town Administrator Paul Dawson told the Board of Selectmen on September 4 that he reached out to Marion Town House Building Committee members Bob Raymond and Bill Saltonstall, as well as Facilities Director Shawn Cormier and the project engineer, to come up with a plan to “gently attack” the project, Dawson said, by breaking it down into bite-size chunks taxpayers would find more palatable and easier to swallow.

The concentration will begin by focusing on the building’s envelope, Dawson explained, which will seal in the interior from the exterior and insulate and waterproof the 141-year-old structure.

“The architect is going to come back to us with a proposal to see how we can best organize that and get some cost estimates for budgeting purposes,” said Dawson. From there, the funding can be allocated over a number of years. “We have been meeting and talking about it … with some very good discussions.”

One important step, Dawson said, is to have the Town House commercially appraised to get a true sense of the actual value of the property.

“I think we need some more info,” said Dawson. “We’re working away at that and we will have more information as it becomes available.”

In other news, local aquaculture farmer Shea Doonan was granted an aquaculture license for an oyster farm off Mitten’s Flats after the board voted to give the project final approval.

This was the “final go-around,” as Dawson stated it, as the project has undergone a rigorous federal and state permitting process that first began with the board earlier this year, filtered through the Conservation Commission for approval in August, and now with an approval letter from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in hand and a nod from Harbormaster Isaac Perry, it was back to the selectmen.

“[The state] has completed their work and they are okay with the Board of Selectmen issuing the permit as it has been applied for,” reported Dawson.

Perry told the board that Doonan’s other aquaculture site off Ram Island is in good standing and suggested, “We see no reason to hold him up on this second site at Mitten’s Flats.”

The board asked Doonan if he would like to say a few words, to which Doonan hastily replied, “No, thank you,” a response based on past experiences with the Board of Selectmen when a series of exhaustive debates did not benefit Doonan so much in other proposed project site applications in Marion waters.

With this approval, Doonan has just one more step, which is the permit to start building.

“Congratulations,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Norm Hills told Doonan.

Also during the meeting, at the request of John Rockwell, chairman of the Marion Open Space Acquisition Commission, the selectmen voted to endorse the bike path project for Point Road as MOSAC prepares to apply for Community Preservation Act funding in the near future.

According to Rockwell, the project involves a paved bike path along 4,000 feet of Point Road beginning at Creek Road and heading south.

Rockwell referred to Point Road as one of the “five deadly roads in town,” of which there is a push to install paved bike paths for safety.

“We’re just looking for a letter to put in the application saying this is a good project and worthy of consideration,” said Rockwell, who has already garnered a letter of support from the Conservation Commission and is expecting one from the Planning Board.

“Thanks, John, for moving things forward,” said Selectman Randy Parker.

“I look forward to biking on it,” said Selectman Jon Waterman.

In other business, the selectmen approved the use of $21,000 from the Marion Music Hall’s restoration account to restore a piano, which will bring the value of the piano to approximately $35,000. The older piano currently at the music hall will be transferred over to the Council on Aging.

The board appointed Casey Gunschel to the Marion Open Space Acquisition Commission, and re-appointed George Pina to the Marion Council on Aging.

The next meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen will be September 18 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Board of Selectmen

By Jean Perry


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