Opinion: Re: Taxpayers should reconsider new Harbormaster office

Sep 20, 2023

To the editor:

I moved to Marion 3 years ago, and it quickly became clear that boating is a key part of the core of this town. The harbormaster’s department oversees many uses of the town’s lovely harbor and other waterways. Though I do not own a power boat or sailboat, I fully support - and have voted for - replacing the harbormaster’s current building with a larger, safer updated one.

I’ve visited the Harbormaster’s present office and am amazed that 3 people manage to work out of that cramped space - it measures approximately 12’ by 12’ inside. Most department records are kept in the town hall, where the administrative assistant also works because of the limited space.

Eileen Marum has served on several town boards, which is admirable, but I respectfully disagree with key parts of her opinion piece in the previous edition of Sippican Week. Unfortunately, it includes some dreadful descriptions, such as referring to the Harbormaster’s office as a “a box perilously suspended 23.5 feet in the air…A target [in a major storm] that could be blown to smithereens, scattering debris far and wide.”

A replacement building which is still being designed for Old Landing will be required to have professional engineering work done. Today, engineers routinely design buildings and structures such as offshore windmills that quite safely deal with “wind, waves, and currents”, as they refer to it. The new workspace will not be a “precarious perch” in a storm.

The weather situation that Marum gives “when the ground beneath the building is under 20 feet of water,” is truly extreme and unlikely for Marion harbor, but of course people would not be able to access the office then, yet the staff would undoubtedly remain as active as conditions allow.

An earlier design proposal for the office was rejected, partly for reasons of not fitting in aesthetically with the town and seaside structures, yet Marum suggests the building should be a movable trailer!

I expect that many boaters and non-boaters would not consider the project to be “extreme and extravagant.” As a friend noted, “she advocates for 'vital community projects'. Wouldn't an essential part of that vitality be open, amicable, and truthful dialogue amongst members of the community?”

I hope that will take place.

Chuck Green, Marion