League of Women Voters observing our town government

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.

 

MARBLEHEAD DISABILITIES COMMISSION – March 9, 2023

LWVM Observer: Nancy Powell

  1. Invited guest, MPD Chief Dennis King, was welcomed to the meeting.

Commission members shared concerns about pedestrians having to move onto the street because of drivers who frequently park their cars on sidewalks or too close to corners or intersections. Ms. Hirschcron said this is especially dangerous for those with auditory, vision and mobility impairments. She noted that police, when called, will ticket illegally parked cars but this doesn’t seem to be a routine procedure they follow. 

Chief King explained there is selective enforcement around traffic and timed parking due to coverage needs at any given time during the day. He urges citizens with such concerns to call the MPD non-emergency line so that an officer can be dispatched to address the situation by speaking with the vehicle owner or ticketing the vehicle. He further stated that multiple calls are helpful and always appreciated. He explained that the department does not typically tow a vehicle unless the violation persists. Ms. Hirschcron proposed further steps to increase public and law enforcement awareness regarding this issue. Ms. Blaisdell will contact local news outlets to see if a friendly reminder could be published to highlight the sidewalk parking problem.

Chief King indicated that in 2022 MPD received over 700 parking violation calls and collected in excess of $40,000 from parking citations. Ms. Blaisdell said that monies accrued from handicap parking citations ($1,500 in 2022) could be used to fund training of MPD officers in responding effectively when people on the autism spectrum or those with communication or sensory disorders are involved.

Ms. Blaisdell expressed concern that crosswalk light signals do not appear to be in the sightline of drivers, with some lights having sunshields covering the actual walk lights. In addition, she pointed out that it is difficult for vehicles turning right on red to visualize people crossing in wheelchairs, increasing the chance of a collision.

Mr. Lang wondered about the potential for vehicle accessibility to the lower sports fields at the High School. Chief King expressed that vehicle traffic on that road might create a hazard for pedestrians but promised to explore that further. 

  1. Magic Hat Thrift Shop

Ms. Mary Ann Dunn and Ms. Farrell had previously notified Ms. Blaisdell of an accessibility issue at the Magic Hat located at the Veterans Middle School. The shop has an entrance with a ramp but has neither a curb cut nor a handicapped parking space. A proposal was offered to move handicap access to another entry point that already exists in the building for use by people with mobility impairments. The Commission maintains that the shop should make the main entrance usable for all individuals for the sake of equity, and they have approached the school’s facilities director who is interested in making this happen. This project is estimated to cost between $3,000 and $5,000 and would be paid for by the Magic Hat.   

Next meeting: April 13, 2023 at 4:15 p.m. – Abbott Public Library, 3 Brook Road and via ZOOM

RECREATION AND PARKS COMMISSION – Monday, March 13, 6:30 p.m.

LWVM Observer – Kay Rieper

Appearances
Four members of the junior and senior classes at MHS requested the use of Usher’s field at Devereux Beach from April 30-May 8 for the annual Carnival. Proceeds will be split among all classes at the high school. Steve Cooper and other supporters of the Dog Park met with the Commission to discuss better access to the park for bringing in supplies to fix and improve the facility. At this time supplies have to be brought in by wheelbarrow load. The Commission will assist in finding out when better access will be available. A proposal to put fundraising signs on the dog park fence would have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals. Steve also requested a bench to honor Dave Cameron some time in the future. Also present was Katie Jenkins, who is planning to improve the dog park facility as her Eagle Scout project.

New Business
Derek, Peter, and Jaime met with Thatcher Kezer and COA members to establish a working group. Peter presented the budget to the Finance Committee. He was asked for a possible 4 percent reduction, depending on the fate of the overrides. One pickle ball court at the Vet’s is damaged and unplayable. The School Department Head of Facilities will be advised as the School Department “owns” these courts.

Recreation
Jaime reported that hiring for the summer is going well. The Daddy/Daughter dance is March 24, and will have cupcake decorating. The egg drop challenge will be on April 2. On Wednesday, March 15 at 11 a.m. kayak rack renewal permits will open online, and new permits will open May 1.

Parks
A section of the wall at Stramski’s has been completed. Invasive plants have been removed at Castle Rock. They are working on erosion mitigation at Chandler Hovey with boulders in place in five areas, paid for with FEMA funds. When it is dry enough, tarps will be removed from the fields, and mowing and fertilizing will be done. The Department will receive $17,200 from the Shattuck Fund which may be used to increase the times that the lights are on at the courts. Kathy Helmes reached out to Peter about having her garden club assist with landscaping on the Neck parks. Sustainable
Marblehead will have volunteers for plantings at Chandler Hovey with the department helping with obtaining supplies. The next meeting will be Monday, March 27 at 7:00 p.m.

WATER & SEWER COMMISSION– March 7, 2023

LWVM Observer – Steven Levy

Superintendent report: Interviews for special labor are ongoing. There is an opening for a mechanical pipe fitter. A vehicle mechanic is needed. People are paving over curb stones. Aqua Line, a contractor, will pay for damaging a water main. The damage will be about $200,000. All pumps are running. There are no generator issues. Traffic boxes have been upgraded. A new exhaust system will be installed in the vehicle repair area. One person got a large water bill because they were irrigating and failed to notify the water department. N. Granese & Sons, Inc. was awarded contract 185 entitled “Loring Transmission Water Main Replacement.” This is for a 16-inch water main. Our new GIS system (geographic information system) will have its own server. Mr. Bates moved to approve the $46,465 quoted by CAI Technologies on Feb. 27, 2023. The motion was approved. The quote was for GIS implementation, maintenance and training. The Finance Committee Liaison Subcommittee was present to review fiscal year 2024 water and sewer budgets. $5,734,116 was requested for the Water Department for fiscal year 2024. That represents a 4.55 percent increase
over the amount requested for fiscal year 2023. $5,302,581 was requested for the Sewer Department for fiscal year 2024. That represents a 4.39 percent increase over the amount requested for fiscal year 2023. Vehicle parts costs have increased by at least 15 percent. Pump parts costs are even higher. The next meeting will be on April 4 at the same time. The meeting ended at 9:21 p.m.