Opinion: Common sense must prevail in Marion

Oct 3, 2023

To the editor:

A rebuttal letter to the editor from the Marine Resources Commission attempted “to correct some of the misinformation” concerning taxpayer monies and the proposed new Harbormaster’s office.

The writer claims that “First and foremost, the design and construction … is completely funded through grants and harbor fees.” No taxpayer money is involved. Really! Semantics aside, a tax by any other name, whether it be a fee, assessment, levy, millage, customs, tariff, or duty is still a tax. All government grants, whether federal, state, or local are funded through taxes. The Seaport Economic Council grant is a state grant funded by Massachusetts taxpayers.

It appears taxpayers are insufficiently informed regarding project costs, the financing, and the funding, for example, funding for the cost of a fire-service line.

Project Architect Tim Sawyer said that he will price out the fire-service line and potentially have the cost absorbed into the project, or another possibility, the fire-service line will be added on as “an improvement” to the Facilities Director’s budget, a budget presumably funded through Town taxpayers.

Mr. Sawyer professes to have “done multiple harbormaster facilities, this is by far the smallest,” but Mr. Sawyer remains silent as to whether his other facilities are positioned on stilts 23.5 feet off the ground.

More worrisome are those who argue, “The new Harbormaster Office has been specifically designed and engineered to withstand a storm more severe than Hurricane Bob and remain functional.” Below are a few of the architectural and engineering projects that failed spectacularly without a hurricane.

Banqiao Dam failed in 1975 after engineers said it could handle a “once-in-2,000-years flood.”

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington collapsed four months after opening for public use.

Wind turbine failures are on the uptick, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The Big Dig tunnel project in Boston was plagued with severe leaks that nearly dislodged the tunnel from its foundations.

The roof of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City collapsed during a rainstorm.

Stilt buildings are constructed primarily as protection against flooding; however, they can collapse under a range of circumstances related to weather and flooding.

Common sense must prevail in Marion if we are to avoid a multimillion-dollar boondoggle that could potentially intensify with a human tragedy.

Eileen J. Marum, Marion