To the Citizens of Marion:
There is currently a Citizen Petition, Article 36, to be presented at Town Meeting that proposes scrapping the entire Town House Renovation Plan and limiting Town House renovations to $200,000 per year. Mr. Ted North, the author, does not call it renovation but a “preserve and repair approach.” I call it offering a Band-Aid to a hemophiliac.
His proposal might have made sense in the 1970s, but decades without maintenance and upgrades to the Town House’s systems need far more than what a limited budget of $200,000 per year can do. Further, the petition gives no financial commitment after the first year, so it is very possible that work could start but remain unfinished with no funding approval in subsequent years.
With all the time, professional expertise, and financial expenditure the Town of Marion has committed to moving the Town House renovations forward over the past six years, this petition is an example of ignorance and folly. Mr. North can be applauded for attempting to save the Town money, but not like this. The Town’s capacity to fund this project has already been approved by the Capital Planning and Improvement Committee and is well within its means to fund using standard debt financing.
Mr. North and his compatriots either have no understanding or are ignoring the work needed to bring the Town House into compliance with State and local codes. To spread out major repairs over time cancels out all economies of scale of the Renovation Proposal and could easily double the total cost. For example, the most pressing issue, abatement of hazardous materials, would take at least three years to complete with the spending restriction of $200,000 per year. Is it fair for town employees to be working in a construction zone for three years? Mr. North claims that “business will go on as usual.” Who is he kidding?
There are electrical, plumbing, and waterproofing upgrades to be done, all of which require hiring outside contractors. None of these improvements will get completed without extending the project far into the future, well beyond the 18-month schedule of the Town House Renovation Proposal.
There has been endless criticism of the amount spent to date on feasibility studies and design. These expenditures, including the study for a new building at the VFW site, reflect the townspeople’s eagerness to create a code-compliant, accessible and efficient Town House. All were approved by the voters and were absolutely necessary to establish an accurate budget in order to renovate and keep the character and functions of the Village intact. Time and again at multiple public meetings, the consensus has been to invest in a renovated Town House.
The logical and prudent course of action is to move forward with the Town House Renovation Plan as proposed, and get it done properly and in a timely manner. Please vote YES for the Town House Renovation Plan at Town Meeting on May 14.
Barry Steinberg, Marion
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