Warrant to Tackle Marijuana, Boiler Breakdown

The February 15 Special Town Meeting Warrant has been closed, and featured on it will be two articles – one to place a temporary moratorium on adult-use marijuana establishments and the other to request funding to repair/replace the boiler heating system at the Town House.

On January 16, the Marion Board of Selectmen voted to close the warrant, and Town Administrator Paul Dawson explained the expenses and situation surrounding the boiler breakdown.

On January 2, the heating system at the Marion Town House went caput, prompting the installation of a temporary diesel-run one million BTU external heat generator to warm the Town House offices “at a reasonable temperature,” as Dawson put it. The cost of that solution, said Dawson, quickly became “prohibiting.”

According to Dawson, the temporary heating system has been guzzling 700 gallons of fuel every week, and the cost for the contractor to remotely monitor the fuel levels so the generator does not run out has come at an additional price.

To save on temporary heating costs, which is included in the $158,460 Special Town Meeting request, Facilities Director Shawn Cormier is exploring alternative ways to buy fuel and also monitor fuel usage, since there will not be a permanent solution to the temporary setback for some time.

“We’ve been hammering away at trying to nail the expenses down,” Dawson said. “We think we’ll get that worked out in the next day or so, and think that that will reduce the costs significantly.”

The cost for the new heating system will be roughly $96,000, said Dawson, with the remainder of the $158,000 article request covering the cost of the temporary heater.

Unfortunately, though, the needed parts for the new heater will not be available for another three to four weeks, Dawson added, and it will take another three to four weeks for the installation.

Dawson thanked the employees at the Town House for their patience and endurance of the random fire alarms (due to rising heat into the second floor) that send workers evacuating the building into the cold, the sometimes less-than-ideal temperature inside offices, and the steady scent of diesel wafting throughout the Town House.

“It’s been challenging,” said Dawson. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to thank all of the employees. It has been literally up and down in terms of the heat, or lack thereof.”

Planning Board member Jennifer Francis and Town Planner Gil Hilario presented the selectmen with a draft of the Complete Streets Program document developed by the Planning Board’s Transportation and Circulation Committee.

The Complete Streets Program is a state program that assists municipalities in funding improvements to local roads, sidewalks, and multi-use pathways in the form of grants.

“The first step in being able to take part is to submit this document,” said Francis, which must include Marion-specific information about the community – elements such as Marion being a coastal community and all that that entails with storm preparedness, floods, etc., among other things such as electric cars.

“It doesn’t commit us to do anything,” said Francis. “It basically starts the process for Marion to participate in the program.”

There are currently 179 municipalities participating in the Complete Streets Program that aligns the guidelines of the Mass Department of Transportation and the Commonwealth while cities and towns pursue roadway projects, said Hilario.

The program offers up to $400,000 annually, said Hilario, “And it’s a good program because you could apply … [for projects as] simple as a bike rack, bike lane, or if you want something more complex … like traffic signals.”

The program requires the Town to set up a committee to oversee the Complete Streets Program, and Hilario said the new Transportation and Circulation Committee would qualify as such a committee.

Routes 105 and 6 – roads under state oversight – are exempt from funding made available to the Town of Marion through the Complete Streets Program.

“Sounds exciting,” said Selectman Steve Gonsalves.

The selectmen had only just received a copy of the draft policy, so the matter was taken under advisement and a vote would be taken at the next meeting.

Also during the meeting, Betsy Dunn was appointed as cemetery commissioner and Police Chief John Garcia was appointed as constable of the Town of Marion, keeper of the lockup, and emergency management director.

The next meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen is scheduled for February 6 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Board of Selectmen

By Jean Perry


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