League of Women Voters: Observing town government in action

Members of the League of Women Voters of Marblehead, front row from left: Shari Pressman, Marta Bach, Alexa Singer, and Tom Krueger; second row from left: Judy Gates, Bonnie Grenier, Lee Mondale, Kathy Breslin, Polly Whitmore, and Mimi Hollister; and third row from left: Don Gardner, Kathy Leonardson, Nancy Powell, and Phil Blaisdell, gather in front of the Old Town House. Photo by Spenser Hasak

Observation reports are submitted by Marblehead League of Women Voters members who have attended meetings of various town boards and commissions. Observers are solely responsible for accuracy of the information.  Complete reports can be found on the LWV of Marblehead Website www.lwvmarblehead.org.

HARBORS AND WATERS BOARD:  January 9, 2023, at 7:30 pm via Zoom

LWVM Observer:  Kathy Breslin

Seawall Material Analysis for Hammond Park, MMLD, Marblehead Yacht Club, Commercial Street Pier, and Parkers Boatyard

Ryan McCoy, assistant regional manager for Collins Engineering, presented a summary of the progress to date for the above property seawalls in collaboration with the Woods Hole Group, Coastal Zone Management (CZM), Marblehead Light Department (MMLD), and Salem Sound Coast Watch (SSCW). Phase I occurred from 2019 to 2021 with an assessment of existing conditions. Analysis was conducted from 2021 to 2022 with some short-term solutions such as MMLD installing flood barriers to protect their basement. The conceptual plan for 2050 was completed with 25% of the design estimates accomplished so far.

Phase 2 will occur from 2023-2024. There is a $692,000 budget, partially covered by a $530,000 grant and $200,000 available from Town ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds dedicated specifically for design. From January to June 2023 the design will advance to be 75% complete. Design objectives for July to December 2023 are:  

  • to mitigate long term risks from sea level rise, storm surge and waves, by raising seawalls, installing wave attenuating floats, and relocating and raising buildings and equipment.  
  • to enhance waterfront public access and recreation, a waterfront parkway, a possible new lift for community boating at Parkers and a conveyor at Commercial Street pier.
  • raise the seawall and the park itself at Hammond Park.
  • restore and raise the seawall at Parkers, raise the boatyard.

Pros and cons of two most popular seawall replacements were discussed, steel sheet pile wall and stacked granite block wall. Projected costs of construction were similar, although maintenance costs of stacked granite were somewhat higher.  The existing seawalls are stacked granite. The Board voted on using stacked granite block walls given the similar cost and to maintain the character of the harbor. At Hammond Park/MMLD, in addition to raising the seawall, there will be a reinforced concrete wall around the perimeter of the MMLD parking lot.

The next phase is permitting.  Planned datelines:

  • 1/19/2023 Mass. EPA pre-filing meeting
  • 3/4/2023 Begin environmental Justice outreach process 
  • 5/1/2023 75% design completion, Environmental Notification Form (ENF) draft
  • 5/31/2023 File MEPA and ENF forms
  • MMLD will also weigh in the choice of material for the new seawalls.
  • Work will likely be done in phases.
  • Funding sources can be explored after the environmental impact evaluation is completed.

Budget Discussion and Updates

The Town Finance Department is working on closing out the current fiscal year. Thatcher Kezer, Town Administrator, recommended using the figure the Board used last year in the interim. He mentioned that the Town’s new budgeting format is “Clear Gov,” which is much more robust than the current format. The Harbors and Waters Board plans their budget discussion at their February meeting.

Harbormaster Report

The Village dock broke away and was found in Kettle Cove in Magnolia, MA. Dave Haley of Marblehead Marine brought the dock back and will get it back into position. The Harbormaster’s building has had the boiler replaced after it failed. The leaking roof at the Marblehead Yacht Club will be getting a temporary repair; it will be replaced in the spring. There have been a few glitches with the Harbormaster’s new software but, overall, it is very efficient, processing payments for 500 permits in five days, which used to take weeks.


LWVM Observer- Shari Pressman

TFAD was represented at a rally for pride and solidarity earlier in the evening on 1/12 at the gazebo at Linscott Park in Swampscott because a swastika had been graffitied on Redington Street. An estimated 100 people, including local clergy and officials and lay leaders attended in the rain to condemn hate and foster a welcoming community for everyone. 

Reece read her and Chris’s statement, published in local media, about the incident at Club Q in Colorado Springs.  

Holocaust Remembrance Day, created almost 20 years ago to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945, will be observed twice on Friday, January 27. 

  • A gathering at Abbot Hall will be held at noon.
  • On Friday, January 27, Temple Emanuel, 393 Atlantic Ave., and Rabbi David Meyer will host Moses Grader, Select Board chair, who will read a proclamation honoring the anniversary. Community members will be present. The service begins at 6:00 pm and welcomes the public.

Diane reported that there’d been no incidents in the schools. She reported that early elementary schools had received books about METCO.

Natalie Belli, a sixth-grade teacher at Village School, suggested the book “Stamped” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds for the February Vacation Book Read. Students would read the Young Adult edition of the book, which Natalie thought is appropriate for grade 6 and lower. Reece and Chris will work to get copies of the book to school Media Specialists. Copper Dog Book Store, on Cabot Street in Beverly, also works with Marblehead schools. The title and project received unanimous approval from TFAD members.

Joe Whipple and Candice Sliney sent a letter to the Select Board on January 6. At the time of the meeting, he hadn’t yet received a response.

In his letter, Joe noted that TFAD has been a town-appointed committee since 1989 but has never received funding. The Task Force has sponsored or cooperated with and financially contributed to other organizations to hold events for Indigenous People’s Day, Juneteenth, Pride Month, MLK Day, Community Book Reads, authors and speakers on DEI and an Information Booth at the Farmers’ Market. This year they will include Holocaust Remembrance Day. TFAD incurs printing, purchasing and advertising expenses for these events. Currently, they reach out for donations from businesses and individuals to support the events. Joe and Candice requested a meeting with members of the Select Board to discuss the request. 

TFAD is seeking two student representatives. Those students who’d like to serve should submit a letter of interest.

Louis Meyi, from the Marblehead Racial Justice Team, spoke about the ongoing “Conversations on Race” series. On Monday evening, January 23, at 7:00pm, Executive Director Doneeca Thurston, Iris Kimber and Tara Agaba from Lynn Museum will present a program on “Untold Stories: A History of Black People in Lynn”. The program is hybrid. For further information, see marbleheadmuseum.org.

TFAD will investigate participating in Marblehead Arts Festival’s proposed Main Street Boost for town organizations this summer.



LWVM Observer – Kay Rieper

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with School Department-The MOU which the Commission submitted to the School Department, was returned, and approved with the addition of a phrase about usage for school contracted programs that isn’t acceptable to the Commission.   Superintendent Buckey and Sarah Fox will be invited to the next Commission meeting, and then Commission members will attend the next School Department meeting to discuss this.   Care of the high school athletic fields is the first priority of the Department, and, in return, the department needs the use of indoor spaces in the schools for winter programs.

Budget– Peter presented a proposed budget with cost increases.   He will send a copy to each member.

Parks – Peter James -Invasive branches were removed from trees near the high school entrance, and a wild flower mix was planted. Vine Street area was cleaned up. After the tree burning, the area was cleaned up. A new sign was installed at the Rainbow Zone

Recreation – Jaime Bloch –

January programming is well underway. Jaime has put toy bins for younger children who are waiting with their parents in the “lobby” while older children participating in programs. On January 29 there will be a ski trip to Bradford.  The Daddy Daughter Dance is back and will be on Friday, March 24.

Jaime still needs to hire a building attendant on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5:30 9:30 p.m.