The Marion Select Board voted at its September 21 meeting to close the October 19 Special Town Meeting warrant that will put 13 articles before voters, including proposals to rezone property along Route 6 where Matt Zuker plans a multi-family residential development, a new agreement with the Old Rochester Regional School District, a stabilization fund for the ORR district, the disbanding of the Council on Aging’s administrative board, and changes to three bylaws.
Select Board member Randy Parker will introduce Articles 1-4 of the warrant, while member John Waterman will introduce Articles 5-8 and Chair Norm Hills will introduce Articles 9-13.
The Select Board voted to approve the contract with ORCTV. Last week, Mattapoisett’s Select Board approved it as presented, and Marion’s vote makes it three out of three Tri-Towns in agreement.
In his Town Administrator’s Report, Jay McGrail told the board that the warrant for Town Meeting is off to the printer and will be posted at marionma.gov on Wednesday, September 22.
Masks will be required of all attendees at the Tuesday, October 19, Special Town Meeting inside the Sippican Elementary School auditorium.
McGrail told the board that the Capital Improvement Planning Committee process toward establishing a FY23 budget is underway. The submission deadline for capital articles is Friday, October 1, and capital hearings begin the following week. McGrail will work with department heads on requests and forward them to the CIPC.
“Hard to believe we’re already there,” said McGrail, who said that, with the assistance of Administrative Assistant Donna Hemphill, he will be able to maintain a timeline leading to a Select Board agenda scheduling review of CIPC articles sometime in October.
“It’s Groundhog Day,” countered Waterman, who told McGrail, “The last two years you’ve done a great job, so stick with the program.”
In touching upon the starting points of discussion for next steps in spending, McGrail said that the exterior renovation and Main Street entrance has been essentially completed at the Town House.
Bringing the first floor of the Town House into ADA compliance is a goal, including a sprinkler system inside the building, installation of a handicap lift, and the removal of paneling and wall boards covering asbestos on the first floor. A $100,000 architecture contract will go through the capital spending process in the spring.
McGrail said the town is trying to fund the next steps for the Town House without taking on a large debt. The goal is to make the building weatherproof, install air conditioning, and make the basement waterproof. In the spring, the exterior Main Street construction will go before the CIPC.
Noting a meeting with the Finance Committee later this week to discuss a sprinkler system for the Town House, McGrail said an ADA-related grant would be a tough fit for the building that needs more than the ADA-related improvements. In Year 1, McGrail instead said the town is looking at constructing an accessible pathway to the beach house and play area at Silvershell.
McGrail told the selectmen that Shea Assad has been named chairman of the reorganized Finance Committee, while John Menzel has resigned. Bill Marvel will replace Menzel in his representative roles. McGrail publicly thanked Peter Winters for his four years as chairman.
The Select Board approved the appointments of Brandon Beauregard, Derek Tiago, and Cameron Van der Veer to the Fireworks Committee for one-year appointments. All came with the recommendation of the committee’s Interim Chair David Brissette. That totals the membership at six. Administrative Assistant Donna Hemphill said the Fireworks Committee has up to seven members and typically four to five.
The board also approved the appointments of Anita Allison to the Conservation Commission and the appointments of Nancy Grogan, Jay Pateakos, and Jennifer Peterson to the Marion Cultural Council.
William Parziale, a veteran, went before the board to pitch a program that he said many towns have adopted that allows resident veterans to work off part of their property taxes.
Citing the senior work-off program that is believed to operate on a similar model, the selectmen responded favorably, albeit in steps.
McGrail told Parziale he will make the matter a future agenda item for the selectmen to discuss. Meanwhile, he will begin investigating how the town can fund the program as part of the FY23 budget. “Now’s the time to have that conversation,” said McGrail. “I think it’s a good program.”
Open houses will soon be scheduled for the public to visit the current Department of Public Works facility and the site of the proposed Maritime Center. A public service video announcement will also be made.
The Select Board approved a street closure request for the December 12 Christmas Stroll from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm in Marion village.
The board voted to approve water/sewer commitments of $1,599,707.60; $132,976.25; $10,331.21; and $3,140.70 (quarterly billing), $1,600 (new water service), and $245 (backflow tests).
Resident Barry Gaffey asked the board why the Creek Road pumping station is being prioritized ahead of the sewer connection at Tabor Academy.
Waterman reminded Gaffey that the Water/Sewer Commissioners meet as such on October 30, and McGrail explained that the main reason is that workers regularly go down into that pump station, “And it’s extremely unsafe.”
Hills pointed out that the Tabor facility was renovated and water-proofed much more recently and is farther away from the water. Waterman noted OSHA problems with the Creek Road station and a grant-funded CDM Smith study that gave reasons why Creek Road was put ahead of the Tabor facility.
Gaffey insists that Tabor is the single point of failure. “Don’t forget priorities. That single point of failure at Tabor is the most damaging thing that could affect this town. The force main is 51 years old,” he said.
Marion Facilities Manager Shawn Cormier is working with Leslie Piper of the Sippican Historical Society on a commemorative bronze plaque for the Town House. A dedication is scheduled for Saturday, October 16, at 10:00 am.
The October 18 Select Board meeting, the Monday immediately prior to the October 19 Special Town Meeting, will be held in person at the Music Hall to honor Debbie Paiva, who will retire on October 19. The only agenda item scheduled for October 18 is the board’s review of the new aquaculture regulations.
The next meeting of the Marion Select Board is scheduled for Tuesday, October 5, at 6:00 pm.
Marion Select Board
By Mick Colageo