It’s electric: Planning Board talks charging stations for Tabor Student Center parking lot

Feb 1, 2021

MARION — The Planning Board is looking toward an electric future in talks over a new student center at Tabor Academy. 

The board suggested at a Feb. 1 meeting that Field Engineering — a firm aiding in the design of a 22,750 square foot student center to replace the existing Hayden Library — add electric vehicle charging stations to its plans. 

“To my knowledge, we haven’t contemplated that to-date,” Robert Field of Field Engineering said.

If approved, the center will include 50 parking spots, 10% of which Board Member Eileen Marum recommended should be electric charging stations. Marum said the idea came from a Marion Energy Management Committee meeting.  

She said the charging stations would be convenient going forward, as some car manufacturers have indicated they will stop producing gas-powered cars in 2030. 

“So you won’t have to be digging up parking lots or putting these in retroactively,” she said. 

Marum noted that there’s a growing population of residents in Marion with electric vehicles, and that the town itself owns a few. 

Plus, the state released a decarbonization roadmap last December, which plans to prohibit the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

“Let’s find a way for the energy committee’s goals to be dovetailed by Tabor,” Board Member Chris Collins said. 

While the design team hadn’t thought to put electric charging stations in the plans, Field was open to the idea. 

“I’d be happy to see what we can do on that issue to get some conduit in place for future wiring for electric vehicles,” he said. 

But Board Member and Selectman Norm Hills noted that gas-powered vehicles won’t disappear overnight — and adding charging stations to the new student center isn’t a particularly urgent issue. 

“The fact that you have plans to have the stuff installed is the most important part,” Hills said. 

For Marum, the suggestion was a point of consistency. She said that because developments on Route 6 are being advised to accommodate for eventual additions like a bike path, it makes sense to urge the designers of the student center to accommodate for the future as well. 

For now, the issue will remain a suggestion. 

“It’s not something we can all of a sudden jump up in a week and put in a requirement,” Hills said. 

The student center parking lot continued to be a focal point of discussion throughout the meeting. 

Marum also suggested that designers add bike racks to the parking lot design — both to encourage faculty and staff to ride to work, and to accommodate for students with bikes. 

“I don’t think we show bicycle spaces right now,” Field said, “but if that’s a requirement we can certainly add that to the plan.”