Village Infrastructure, Creek Road Have Heavy Price Tags

            Department of Public Works Director David Willett told the Marion Board of Selectmen that he was pleasantly surprised that CDM Smith engineering sent him its computer-aided-design (CAD) files for the roadway at the center of the Village Infrastructure Project Phase 1B during the Board’s April 21 remote-access meeting. 

            “I’m a little reticent about talking about it,” said Willett. “They did a big favor for us… It’s going to save us an enormous amount of money even if we use another contractor.”

            The work, worth $21,800, had been revised and is still essentially the same proposal involving sewerage, roadway design, and the stormwater system.

            “In my opinion, it’s quite a bit overdesigned for what you need there,” said Willett, adding that while the village is a mature area, a peer review will evaluate the information and give its opinion on rehabbing versus reconstruction of the system.

            Further analysis may yield conceptual changes to the stormwater plan that would, in turn, reduce the cost and allow the redirection of money to other road projects that the village needs.

            Selectman Norm Hills said that he wants to make sure that the latest rainfall data is taken into account when that gets decided. Willett said that, with the sea-level rising, it would be nice to see the potential evaluation of Marion’s village infrastructure.

            A motion to approve an allocation of Chapter 90 funds was tabled until Thursday, April 23, when the board members will have had ample opportunity to review the proposal. Town Administrator Jay McGrail told the board there needs to be a meeting on April 23 anyway to vote on a solar contract.

            “A peer review is a good investment for us. We need to get this moving. All this work isn’t going to get cheaper while we allow this to drag on,” said Selectman John Waterman.

            Willett addressed other subjects, including the town’s pavement management program. He was pleased to learn than Marion’s roads were given a 75 percent rating; the best rating he had seen prior to in another town was 70 percent.

            Willett reported that Beta Engineering is suggesting Marion spend $265,000 for the next five years in order to capitalize on minor road repair opportunities and thereby maximize the present value of its roads and minimize future costs. Willett is looking to allocate more than the $170,000 it would take to get Marion to a Grade D; $190,000 might get Marion to Grade B.

            Waterman pointed out that Creek Road is in dire need of repair and should not fall behind, but the approximately $400,000 it would take to reconstruct the middle section of Creek Road alone outweighs the $265,000 that is suggested Marion spend to maximize value in its other roads.

            Willett countered that the overall value saving should not be sacrificed to reconstruct Creek Road, which is already in need of a major overhaul. All present were amenable to Creek Road repair being put in the capital budget for FY22 so it will not slip further behind.

            “So, I’ve got a two-headed road program,” summarized Willett.

            The board gave Willett the right to waive the town’s $5,000 bonding requirement for contractors in the case of emergencies and special circumstances so as not to hold up smaller street-opening permits by rules designed more for large contractors doing large jobs.

            Waterman later suggested that, before vegetation grows is a good time to get done the spring beautifications to the Village, focusing on painting and signs.

            In his report, McGrail updated the Board of Selectmen on the Board of Health meeting an hour earlier in which the reopening of the beach parking lot was discussed but with no firm plans until at least May 4 with a May 5 Board of Health meeting scheduled.

            Meantime, Assistant Harbormaster Isaac Perry will begin installing the floats at the town dock, getting it ready to open for the public in time for May 5, pending the governor’s guidance. 

            The state’s stay-at-home advisory expires on May 4, but with Tuesday’s announcement that schools are closed for the duration of the 2019-20 academic year, it’s a game of hurry-up-and-wait where it concerns non-essential businesses and public facilities.

            Hills made the point that boats could soon be coming north, as snowbirds return from winter in the south, and asked if they should be asked to self-quarantine upon arrival. It was noted that one way to identify potential newcomers would be tax bills mailed to out-of-area addresses.

            McGrail told the board that, for now, the plan at Town House to have staff working two days in the office and three days at home has kept the business of government running. “It’s working out well,” he said.

            McGrail reported that General Electric has offered the best bid proposal for Marion’s interest in a solar project and, at the same time, in proposing a straight lease, is the town’s only legal option. General Electric will have to apply for the interconnection with Eversource, and that fee could kill the project, according to McGrail.

            The board approved the promotion of Jonathan Castro to permanent status as a member of the Marion Police Department and welcomed aboard two others to one-year probationary periods. Castro, formerly with the Fall River Police Department, has been on for a year, met all requirements, and was in line to be appointed to a full-time permanent position.

            Kaylah Medeiros, a member of the National Guard, was brought on as a full-time officer for a one-year probationary period. Chief of Police John B. Garcia welcomed her, saying, “Congratulations; you earned it.”

            Connor Flynn of Plymouth was also brought on for a one-year probationary period as a special officer. A Mass Maritime Academy graduate, Flynn had been an assistant harbormaster in Duxbury and a lieutenant junior grade in the Naval Reserves. Hills, retired U.S. Navy, told Flynn, “I appreciate your service, too… I’m sure the chief has work for you to do.”

            Garcia told the board, “We now have all five branches of the service covered.”

            In other business, the board approved $1,950 needed to complete restoration of the piano at the Music Hall.

            The board approved a water-sewer commitment of $10,000 for new service.

            The board approved the appointment of Jessica Govoni to the Scholarship Education Fund committee.

            Chairperson Randy Parker praised fundraising work done by Judy Rosby, who spearheaded the raising of $164,000 for the Elizabeth Taber statue. The Sippican Historical Society has donated $50,000 and been the receptacle for all the money coming out of that privately-raised fund. The Society is planning an August 2 event on Taber’s birthday.

            Parker also praised the group of citizens that formed a team picking up trash around town during the weekend. “It didn’t go unnoticed,” he said.

            The Memorial Day parade, currently planned on a low profile, will be on the board’s agenda for discussion at its next meeting, Thursday, April 23, at 3:00 pm.

            The board proclaimed May 3 through 9 to be Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Marion Board of Selectmen

By Mick Colageo

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