Building a Taj Mahal on Sippican Harbor

To the Editor;

            Building a Taj Mahal on Sippican Harbor

            There was a great turn out for the presentation on the proposed Maritime Center.  While the public was generally positive, discussion regarding the size of the building, the amount of office space, and the proposed uses was noticeably missing.  

            It will have a footprint of 5,343 square feet, 2,000 square feet of office space, and be 36.4 feet high (from the ground to roof ridge).  Such a large building will dominate the site.  A friend called it the “Taj Mahal on the harbor.”

            The 2,000 square feet of office space calls for three private offices and onsite record storage.  Our police officers don’t have private offices.  One private office for the Harbormaster, which can double as a conference room, would be sufficient.  Record storage needs to be centralized at the Town House.

            It calls for consolidating all harbormaster functions and personnel at Island Wharf including records and physical storage under the building.  This is nonsensical even with an elevated building.  The site is in the velocity zone, only 6.5 ft above mean low tide. 

            When the first storm comes through flooding low lying areas, our harbormaster resources will be tied up evacuating their own facility, including records and equipment stored there.  The building might survive the flooding and the high winds, but might not survive a large size boat dragging anchor and crashing into it.  

            While there is grant money available for these types of projects, we need to be sensitive to the total cost to make a credible grant proposal and because it is likely Marion will need to fund 25% of the project cost.  This design appears to have been done with no budget limit.  We also can’t ignore the cost of maintaining and cleaning this large facility.  In no time, our Facilities Director will be discussing the need to hire another person. 

            Only essential functions and personnel should be located at Island Wharf and other needs accommodated elsewhere.  We need a “command and control” tower with expansive views, a small counter for customer service, and public bathrooms there.  It would be nice to have a public observation deck above them.  This small facility will maintain open space, preserve water views, and preserve public access to the harbor at Island Wharf.

John P. Waterman, Marion Resident and Selectman

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