League of Women Voters: Observing town government in action

Observing Marblehead 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.


LWVM Observer – Kay Rieper

New Business

Derek received a letter from Jack Attridge suggesting that the sign “entering Marblehead” on Rec and Park property on Lafayette Street needs repair or replacement.   The Commission would be glad to partner in this but they have no money in the budget to contribute.

The water line to the Stramski house has been completed.   There is still work to be done on railings on the steps and a handicap lift, the money for which may be requested from the Shattuck Fund

Damage at the beach parking lot from the recent storm will not be repaired till spring, anticipating more storms and high tides.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Schools – Derek and Jaime met with Sarah Fox and Dr. Buckey about the Department’s need for use of school facilities for after school programs during the school year, and for the summer programs during inclement weather.   Details of the memorandum of understanding were worked out and will be brought to the school committee at their next meeting.   The Department provides the use of fields, and park facilities for many school activities, and if they can’t use school indoor facilities, they may have to institute a user fee to cover the cost of lost recreation programs and cost for using other indoor facilities.

Budget – A requested level funded budget will be impossible to maintain with inflation adding cost to everything such as oil, electricity, fertilizer, water, sewer, and gasoline.  –The fields need to be maintained.   Peter will present a budget to the Finance Committee with his estimates for the increased costs.

Parks– There has been a lot of leaf cleanup at the parks and schools and tree work at various parks.   The beach parking lot will be fixed in spring.   The Highway Department will fix the sidewalk.

Recreation– Winter programs include basketball, indoor soccer, and floor hockey (for little kids).   Summer planning is well underway and online sign-ups will go live in February. Jaime has been (unsuccessfully) looking for an evening worker to monitor the Community Center several nights a week from 5 – 9 p.m.   It was suggested that this could be offered as a “tax write-off job” for a senior.   She will pursue this.

Correspondence– In answer to a letter from pickle ball, the courts will not be closed unless it snows.   Then they will be locked for liability, and to prevent damage to the courts.



LWVM Observer – Steven Levy

Superintendent’s water report: Burkes Water Storage Tank has been performing well.

This is a Water license renewal year. More people are taking classes. Two small leaks were found and fixed. Costs of water breaks due to a contractor not following Dig Safe requirements.  (Dig Safe® is a not-for-profit clearinghouse that notifies participating utility companies of your plans to dig.) are still under legal counsel review.

Superintendent’s sewer report: Impeller for Kenneth Sewer Pump Station has been shipped. This impeller is a replacement for an impeller sent with incorrect rotation. The Shorewood Station Variable Frequency Drives 

(VFD) were installed. Contract 184 upgrade to electrical grid connections will also allow for better security, and safety, even in emergencies.

We recently had an eleven-foot tide and a 2 ft storm surge The climate resistance wall at Fort Sewell performed as designed. Water did splash over, but no water entered Wet Well or came in contact with the Station. Lobster traps, kayaks and other items were strewn around the area. People should be encouraged to secure their items as they can obstruct emergency procedures.

Sanitary Sewer Overflow Notification Plan as required by Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), received comments from DEP. In economic justice areas, the notification in the language associated with that area needs to be given. Spanish and Creole translations should be added to plan in the event that notification needs to be sent to Salem, MA. Swampscott Board of Health should be added to notification plan. Resump.org is the web page where Marblehead notifications will be posted. (RESUMP is a public outreach and education program sponsored by the Marblehead Water and Sewer Commission.)

The NEWEA, New England Water Environment Association, will be having a conference. The annual conference will be held January 23rd through 25th. The technical programs and vendor displays are interesting.

Superintendent’s Administrative update: Reminders were sent to customers that had balances over 180 days, (pink “tags” are put on the door). As a result, many people paid overdue bills.  A few residents noted that they did not get the bill which comes quarterly.  Most incidents of this kind were due to incomplete Real Estate Transfers. Only two properties have no water service due to non-payment.  Both properties are vacant. 

MWRA (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority) Report: Small leak was detected on upper northern high transmission line. It was encased in concrete. Repair work is ongoing.

SESD (Southern Essex Sewer District) Report:  A Consultant for Peabody has reached out to board members to discuss air rights. No meeting has been set with the Marblehead Representative yet.  

NSCAP (North Shore Community Action Program), will help economically disadvantaged people with their water bills, if they qualify. The Commission would have to sign a contract. The program representative stated there is no liability on the town. The Commission requested confirmation from legal counsel before the February meeting.

The new Glover Residences at Vinnin Square are getting water and sewer services from Swampscott even though they are located in Marblehead. The bills should be coming from Swampscott for the entire complex. There will be a meeting between the Swampscott and Marblehead Department Heads.

Warrants for Town Meeting were reviewed and approved. MWRA (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority) Local Assistance Program  which is zero interest for ten years, was included in the Warrant review .

Preliminary FY24 Budgets for Water and Sewer Departments were reviewed.

There was discussion of the computer budget line item. The new Town Server is still experiencing technical issues. This has delayed the installation of a GIS (Global Information System) Server and upgrading of all software associated.  The movement of data to the new GIS server and training are included in the draft budgets.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:39 pm.  Next Water and Sewer Commission meeting will be at 7 P.M., Tuesday February 7, 2023.