12/8 League of Women Voters Observing town government in action

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 -November 14, 2022  

LWVM Observer:  Kathy Breslin 

Fiscal Year 2024 capital outlays discussion

 Marblehead Yacht Club Roof Replacementa Priority.  $15-20K for full replacement. Water is coming in now.  We are still trying to get someone to do a temporary repair but have been unsuccessful.  The time frame for replacement is after Town Meeting.  Stripping of the roof requires that all debris be collected.  A roofer with experience at that height along the waterfront is hard to find.  If the roof is stripped all debris needs to be collected. A more costly option is installing a marine metal roof over the existing roof, and it would be noisy.  One contractor was located but the cost was $60K.  The harbormaster will continue to try to find a contractor.  The possibility of starting an emergency fund transfer before the finance committee was discussed. 

Ferry Lane Seawall railing replacements.  $10 -18K estimate.  They are corroded, old, galvanized railings which have suffered damage from snowplows over the years.  The Town Engineer has been consulted.  Jersey Barriers were suggested, as well as the possibility of bollards. 

 An ADA ramp needs to be installed from Ferry Lane to the State Street Landing, preferably of concrete.  $10K estimate. Excavation will be necessary.  Width of 48” required for wheelchair access as well as a side handrail.   

Tucker’s Wharf power pedestals (3) replacement–$9K estimateNeed 50 amp power.  Water hydrant at base of gangway and water outlets after grounding system would eliminate attachment from gangway.  Electrocution can occur if someone is swimming. 

Village Street Pier railings and pier head–$7K estimateThe deck was completed 5-6 years ago but the railings are older and wobbly, yet repairable.  The last concrete pedestal is wearing, lost one bolt and need to pull wood out.  A new plate needs to be made further back on the gangway.  The end result will be better than the current ADA compliance. 

Gallows support wires–$8K estimate.  On hoists and gangways.  There is corrosion where the wires are crimped at State Street.  N.E. Crane Hoist can check and replace. 

Ford Explorer truck replacement for the Harbormaster?  $25-35K estimate.  The present one is 3 years old, owned by the Police Dept. 

Other discussions 

The Coastal Zone Management Report.  Are seawall improvements under the jurisdiction of the Harbors and Waters Board or under General Town Funds?  Maybe the Harbors and Waters Board could get General Town Funds to help.  The priority of the seawall repairs needs to be determined.  Cliff Street should be first, followed by Parkers Boatyard, Tuckers Wharf, and State Street Wharf. Should the Stacey Clark be replaced with a Safe Boat?  It is kept on the Harbormaster’s dock to be occasionally used as a public safety boat.  The Stacey Clark is not certified as a Safe Boat and it should not have gone to the Fire Dept, as the Harbormaster drives it.  The Harbormaster has been applying for grants for three years.  Fire Chief Jason Gilliland will work with replacing the Stacey Clark with a safe boat under control of the Harbormaster.  There is an option of a three-hull boat similar to one in Hingham.  NYC also has 2-3 of them in the Hudson River.  Some of the grants are technology-based.  The Harbormaster and the Fire Chief would apply for a grant together.  These boats can pull water from the boat and from the ocean to fight fires.  The Harbormaster will still be driving the boat unless he is not available.  There are a few Fire Dept men who are OK to drive it.  They are built in the Pacific Northwest for tough conditions.  Estimated cost $450-500K. 

There are still a few docks waiting for Dave Haley to remove.  Inspections have been OK.   The only boat in the water for the winter is Hornet. The pump out boat is to be stored at the Transfer Station, presently at Devereux Beach. 


BOARD OF HEALTH  – 11-29-22  Hybrid Meeting

LWVM Observer – Thomas Krueger


Transfer Station Design Review


Mr. Petty opened the meeting with a review of the Transfer Station design, utilizing four enlarged graphics: MTS (Marblehead Transfer Station) – Conceptual Site Plan, MTS – Conceptual Site Plan, Enlarged, MTS – Staff and Scale house, and a rendering of compactor facility.  (These graphics can be seen at marblehead.org, health department, transfer station construction information.) During the presentation, Mr. Petty would go back and forth between the various graphics. 


He reminded the board that residential traffic would enter from Green Street. Here an electronic gate would open at 7am so that traffic could queue inside the TS away from Arnold Terrace.  A gate further up the entrance road would open at 7:30 am when the transfer station opens. A new staff kiosk will be located at the intersection of the recycling bin and drive to the composting area. (Note: all traffic, commercial and residential, will exit onto Woodfin Terrace onto West Shore drive.)


The presentation then moved to the commercial entrance, in particular the location of the Staff and Scale House.  He reviewed the layout of the this building in more detail which includes the scale house office, an adjoining rest room, airlock lockers, staff breakroom, and HC bathroom with shower, the latter for clean-up. The “air locker” will allow for heating and air conditioning with little escape.  The staff break room will have cubbies for each employee. The roof of the building will be solar panel ready. There is ongoing discussion about the siding for this building to give it some character.  Much discussion ensued about the flow of commercial trucks in this area including, site lines for the scale house operator and site lines for oncoming vehicles: the trucks going forward over the scale, then back to the compactor, and then forward (see graphic MTS – Conceptual Site Plan – Enlarged.) 


Mr. Petty then discussed the compactor building.  This will have two sides that are metal and two sides that are translucent for the sides not getting the sunlight. On the translucent side will be two exhaust fans for accumulating dust. 


The swap shed will be located in the current location but perhaps rotated facing the entering driveway.  The new design will have an overhang for rain, and the roof will be solar panel ready. Ample parking will still be available.  There is a discussion about even more parking for high volume days located along the drive to the left of the current recycling containers.


Other aspects of the design, such as, location of oil recycling container, light bulbs, etc. were indicated.  Mr. Petty was asked about the number attendants need – two upfront, and three in back. Board members asked about some other design elements: a sliding window for the scale house attendant; an automated light when the trucks exit. (Note that in the design residential traffic will be exiting north of the removable bollards, and commercial south – see MTS Conceptual Site Plan – enlarged.) 


At this meeting the board was voting on the design concept.  A motion was made to accept the proposal, seconded, and passed unanimously.  



LWVM Observer:  Maggie Smist


2022 Financial Update: .09 PPA (Power Cost Adjustment) – with that increase, MMLD expenses will exceed revenue by $75,000.  There is no need to adjust this .09 PPA in December.  With the closing of the books MMLD needs to consider two charges to budget – employee benefits and pension contribution.  These figures haven’t come in yet.

Budget includes $330 Pilot Payment – Should the board discuss using this for the Rate Stabilization Fund?   If MMLD does this, it should be communicated to the Select Board.  In the past, if MMLD had a surplus it went back to town – MMLD won’t have it this year.  There are also Capital improvements that need funding.  There was a lengthy discussion of the financial situation and communicating with the Town about the status as of this date.  Decision does not need to be made tonight since there are items that MMLD is waiting to have come in before year-end. MMLD operating cash remains solid at $5.4 million.

2023 budget: There is a 17% increase in budget due to rate changes.  There was a discussion of adding a line item for rate stabilization fund.  There was a discussion of the cost of energy with environmental attributes such as wind, solar and batteries.  Discussion about benefits and downsides of retiring requisitions.  Also, there was discussion of adjusting PPA’s.

Rate restructuring: Discussed PPA of .025 for 2023.  The board also discussed their current communication plan and how it should continue in the light of rate increases.

Winter Electric Service Reliability: Marblehead may have supply risks this winter per ISO New England.  There is a ‘minor’ chance of rolling blackouts with a higher probability this year than other years.  Under extreme conditions, ISO will load shed (automatically reduce customers demand).  Would more likely happen when we have sustained multi-day cold spell.  There was extensive discussion of how load-shedding works.  An example of a load-shed plan was reviewed.   Customers should sign up for ‘Code Red’ since this is the best way to get information out securely.   Customers will need to know which ‘circuit’ they are on.   

Low-income residential rate reduction: MMLD uses Neighbors Helping Neighbors and there was a discussion of the program and allocation of money to the fund.

Certificate of Excellence In Reliability: MMLD received this award in 2022!  It is an award for reliable electric service given by the American Public Power Association.

Sustainability Committee Update: No updates for this meeting. Need to set goals for 2023.  Looking at setting meeting for 12/20.

Strategy Working Group: The group is working on understanding long-term needs for Marblehead and planning for future infrastructure needs.

There was a discussion of trends affecting electric energy charges.  The group also needs data for load forecast – it was discussed what data points are needed.