Shaping the future at Town Meetings
Marion and Mattapoisett voters will weigh in on the future of town facilities and new regulations at their Special Town Meetings on Monday, October 21.
In Marion, voters will hear a total of 22 warrant articles with topics ranging from new facilities and equipment for first responders, to the construction of an emergency access driveway at Sippican School, to leaving the Regional Refuse Disposal District, to various regulations on water supply, housing units, and solar panels.
In Mattapoisett, voters will be presented with 20 articles, including a proposal to study whether the town needs two elementary schools, plans for a future town hall facility, funding for repairs and restoration work on Town Wharf, updates to the Master Plan, licensing and engineering work for a solar project on the former landfill, and improvements to Industrial Drive and North Street.
The Mattapoisett Special Town Meeting will be held at the Old Rochester Regional High School Auditorium at 6:30 p.m.
The Marion Special Town Meeting will start at 6:45 p.m. at the Sippican School Auditorium.
All registered voters are welcome to vote at their town’s meeting.
Article One asks voters to approve or deny spending $25,000 on a feasibility study for a new Harbormaster building at 1 Island Wharf Road. Harbormaster Isaac Perry said that the current office is very cramped at just 15 square feet, and that the study would be “the very first step” toward a better alternative.
Articles Three and Four are dedicated to new equipment for the Fire Department. The first article asks voters whether or not to approve spending $28,800 to install epoxy floors in the apparatus room in the Marion Fire Station on Spring Street. This sum would supplement $34,200 approved at the 2018 Annual Town Meeting for the project.
The Fire Department is also requesting $44,573 — the town’s share of the cost — to purchase a new tanker truck. The Fire Department previously received a grant for $297,142. The new truck will replace a 1957 model truck that was adapted from a military vehicle.
"The current vehicle does not have seat belts that would protect our firefighters in the event of a crash, and this is unacceptable," Chief Brian Jackvony said. "Vehicles that have been converted for purposes that they were never intended for are particularly dangerous because of the added weight they carry, especially when operating under emergency conditions. The new truck will not only be safer but will be designed to support our initial fire attack, especially in areas in town where private water mains do not provide adequate water flow for fire hydrants."
Article Five asks voters to approve spending $30,400 for an emergency access driveway that would connect Sippican School to Route 6. Town Administrator James Mcgrail said that the driveway is important because there is currently only one way for School buses to exit from the back of the building. The driveway will have a breakaway gate that buses can pass through in emergency situations.
Voters will be asked to decide the future of waste disposal in Marion, as Article Nine would authorize McGrail 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.
This vote would allow the district to create a potential agreement for Marion to leave, but another Town Meeting vote would be required to approve of the proposed contract later on. The financial committee determined that this would have no financial impact on the town.
McGrail said the regional agreement is no longer the best option for Marion, which has “different priorities” than the other towns, that do not offer a curbside trash pick-up service.
The Marion warrant also includes amendments to the current bylaws and codes regulating new multifamily housing, drinking water, and solar panels.
McGrail added that live updates of the Patriots’ game will be provided at the meeting for any avid football fans worried about missing out on the action.
To see the complete Marion warrant go to: www.marionma.gov/home/news/special-town-meeting-monday-october-21-2019.
In Mattapoisett, Article 5 would establish a committee of Selectman, School Committee members, and the town moderator to study the future of the town’s elementary schools. The committee would be tasked with examining the costs and feasibility of continuing to operate two elementary schools. The committee’s findings would be presented at next fall’s Town Meeting.
The committee will also consider converting one elementary school into the town hall, as well as other locations that could host a town hall.
Article 12 would appropriate an unspecified sum of money to engineer, bid for repairs, and restore the dock and town properties on the waterfront. Gagne specified that the town has some equipment needs on the waterfront, and that voters would be updated with an exact funding amount at Town Meeting.
Another article would start funding, engineering and bidding work for repairs on Long Wharf.
The town is also looking for $51,000 to update its Master Plan, which was written in 2000. Gagne called the plan “way overdue to be updated.”
Article 4, along with sections of Articles 13 and 19, deal with funding, lease and license agreements, design, engineering, and bidding work for a solar array on the capped town landfill off Tinkham Hill Road. The town would be able to use the energy from the array for its municipal needs. Some funding is wrapped up in a general request for project funding, while article 19 would give the Selectmen permission to lease out the land for the project.
Developers of a private solar project on the southeastern side of the landfill off Tinkham Hill Road are requesting a power line easement in Article 17. Gagne noted that the easement could also be beneficial to the town’s proposed solar array.
Included in Article 20 is $1,665,000 to improve drainage on Industrial Drive and create a crosswalk to the Park and Ride. Those funds would only be used if the town receives two grants totaling $1,470,000 that would cover the rest of the cost of the project.
Article 3 would fund Mattapoisett’s contribution to an Old Rochester Regional School Resource Officer.
The town is also requesting permission to rent space in the American Legion Hall on Depot Street. In exchange for the use of the space, the town would fund the rebuilding of a section of the roof. Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical School students and instructors may do some of the work on that project.
Voters will also decide whether to empower the Selectmen to approve a network of publicly accessible trails through Tinkham Forest. Maps of the trails are available at the Town Clerk’s office and will be distributed at Town Meeting.
To hear Gagne explain the Town Meeting Articles, go to vimeo.com/showcase/5593811/video/365812875.
To view the Mattapoisett warrant, see: www.mattapoisett.net/sites/mattapoisettma/files/uploads/sftmwarrent1021.pdf.