'You shouldn't paint over rust' at the Town House

May 5, 2018

To the Editor:

Citizens of Marion,

Mr. North’s citizen petition calls for a Preservation Bylaw which would add a line item to the general fund budget every year for the next five years in order to complete the projects required to repair and maintain the Town House.  Stretching these repairs over 5 years is not feasible, much more expensive in the long run, and subject to an annual Town vote which could conceivably halt any project midstream to take care of more pressing issues.  Here are a few points Mr. North seems to ignore:

The list of repairs required includes: remove asbestos; comply with accessibility code requirements for elevators, toilets, fire alarms; provide sprinklers; insulate roof and exterior; replace 100+ year-old single pane windows for heating efficiency; fix code violation of no fresh air makeup – and more.  We already have a “TH triage needs list”.  It includes these major projects before we add a new coat of paint as he seems to think is a priority.

Any one of these projects require transferring employees to another location for some period of time to continue Town business.  Is Mr. North proposing that we stretch this relocation out over 5 or 10 years in order to fund the project out of the General Fund?  Are we going to lease space elsewhere and change delivery of services to a new location indefinitely?

Is Mr. North proposing we buy materials (windows, siding, framing) piecemeal in order to fit into the budget?  In that case we give up economies from buying wholesale.

Stretching this project out indefinitely subjects us to inflationary cost increases of 4-5 percent in construction and labor costs every year.  Borrowing costs right now are less expensive than they will ever be in the future.

Mr. North says that all the Town House needs is some TLC.  In order to do the renovation job completely and correctly, we need to tackle these major projects which have been deferred for the past 50 years.  And I learned one important lesson in my time in the Navy – you shouldn’t paint over rust.

Allan Ditchfield, Marion