Potential voters voice concerns, get clarity on Town Meeting articles

Oct 16, 2019

MARION — Town residents gathered at the Marion Music Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 17 to have their questions and concerns on the upcoming Town Meeting warrant articles clarified by the Board of Selectmen and Town Administrator.

Voters will weigh in on 22 articles on the Oct. 21 meeting at 6:45 p.m. at the Sippican School auditorium. The first ten involve town business, while the remainder seek to make adjustments, and eliminate inconsistencies in existing bylaws.

The Board of Selectmen and Town Administrator discussed all 22 articles at the Oct. 17 informational meeting, but a select few prompted questions and concerns from potential voters, and needed more detailed explanation.

Article one asks voters to approve the transfer of $25,000 from the Waterways Account to fund a feasibility study for a new Harbormaster’s office. Selectmen explained that the current office has limited space and is not handicap accessible. Selectman John Waterman added that he was interested in having a classroom space included in the future building. 

Selectmen clarified that the $25,000 is for the feasibility study, and not for any of the construction cost, and that they would only move forward with the project if it could be funded by grants.

Article four asks voters to approve of $44,573 towards the purchase of a new fire tanker truck and training for firefighters to use the truck, for which the town has already received a grant of $297,142.85.

One resident asked if the new purchase was truly necessary. Fire Chief Brian Jackvony responded that with many fire hydrants on private property in the town not having sufficient waterflow, the tanker could provide a quick first response in areas that may otherwise not be prepared to handle an emergency without the help of neighboring fire departments, and that the truck is “100 percent needed.”

Article five asks for the transfer of $30,400 from the Capital Stabilization Fund to design an emergency access/ egress driveway connecting Sippican School to Route 6. Currently there is only one way for buses to exit from the back of the school.  

One resident commented that “it seems like a  lot of money just for the design.”

Selectmen responded that they have received multiple estimates for the design, and that this was the best available option. Selectman Randy Parker added that they originally intended to have the project designed “in house” to save money, but that it was simply not practical to do so.

In the past, buses have had to drive over a curb and across the Town House lawn to evacuate in an emergency.

Town Administrator James McGrail said that “in the times we live in today...one means of egress...we just can’t have it,” explaining the necessity of the project.

Article nine asks voters to allow the Town Administrator to begin the process of withdrawing from the Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse District. The district was formed in the 1970s as part of an agreement that secured free waste disposal in the towns while SEMASS could use the Carver landfill to dispose of its ash for free. Because the Carver landfill is almost full, that agreement will end at the end of 2020.

Selectmen explained that this is only the first of two Town Meeting votes needed to leave the district. This vote will allow negotiations to begin, but a second vote will be needed to approve a negotiated contract for leaving later on.

Town Administrator James McGrail recommends leaving the district due to having “different priorities” from the other two towns, who do not offer a curbside trash pick-up program.

One resident expressed a concern about the fate of the Benson Brook Transfer Station, but selectmen assured him that they intended to keep that facility running, allowing residents to dispose of trash that can’t be picked up during curbside collection.

To see the complete Marion Town Meeting warrant go to: www.marionma.gov/home/news/special-town-meeting-monday-october-21-2019.