Marion voters discuss, approve Community Preservation Act projects
MARION — Marion voters packed into the Sippican School multi-purpose room on Monday, May 8 and had their say on 34 items on the 2024 Spring Town Meeting agenda.
Every item on the agenda was passed by the town.
Marion voters approved Town Meeting items nine through 21, which all dealt with the allotment of Community Preservation Act funds for various town projects.
However, a number of Marion voters raised questions about these items.
Marion voter and former Marion Select Board Member Jon Henry asked why Article 9 was determined to have “no financial impact” by the Marion Finance Committee.
Article 9 asks the town to appropriate $114,000 for “open space, community housing and/or historic preservation for Fiscal Year 2024” as well as $264,000 to the “[Community Preservation Act] Budgeted Reserves.”
According to Marion Finance Committee Chair Shay Assad, Article 9 has no financial impact because the financial impact came when the town agreed to adopt the Community Preservation Act at a previous Town Meeting.
“It kind of is what it is,” said Assad.
Marion Select Board Chair Randy Parker added that the funds come from a two percent surtax on top of any taxable revenue above the first $100,000 of a taxpayer’s home assessment. This surtax then sees a 25% match from state funds, added Marion Finance Director Judy Mooney.
“This is all very murky,” said Henry. “How this is not a financial impact is beyond me.”
Article 12, which would appropriate $26,928 from the Community Preservation Act Undesignated Fund for “enhanced school-based gardens and garden [sites] at Sippican School” was passed, but not without discussion.
For Marion voter Chris Welch this was a “ridiculous expense.”
“What are we getting for $27,000? I built a [20-foot by 30-foot] raised garden bed for $400,” he said. “This has got to be the crème de la crème of all gardens.”
According to Marion Institute Executive Director Elizabeth Wiley, who is leading the Sippican School garden project, this is part of the Marion Institute’s “Grow Education” program.
“We’re bringing a whole school-based enrichment program to the Sippican Elementary School,” she said. “The gardens and the outdoor classrooms and outdoor teachers are a part of a two-year program within the school system.”
“What is an outdoor classroom beside a blanket to sit on?” asked Welch. “That’s how I did it in grade school.”
Wiley explained that the project includes accessibility features for the garden, enhancement around the school's flagpole, storage space, curriculum planning and plantings.
Article 13 saw the appropriation of $85,000 toward funding the Mattapoisett River Valley Water Supply Resilience Project, which would permanently preserve 231 acres of land.
Articles 14 and 15 saw $9,150 go toward preserving veterans’ gravestones and $15,000 be allocated to completing the Sippican Lands Trust’s Osprey Marsh Pavilion.
Article 16 allocated $75,000 toward the construction of four pickleball courts on Point Road that will replace two tennis courts.
Upon the passing of Article 16, one Marion voter exclaimed “pickleball rules!”
Articles 17, 18 and 19 saw a $35,000 allocation to the Marion Art Center for the installation of a fire alarm system, a $17,500 allocation to the Marion Natural History Museum for inventorying the museum’s collections, and a $30,000 allocation to the Sippican Historical Society for digitizing historical materials.
Marion’s Spring Town Meeting warrant can be found online at www.marionma.gov.