Marblehead League of Women Voters: Your 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


LWVM Observer – Kay Rieper


Gregg Riskin appeared before the Board with a proposal for a memorial for his parents, Marty and Annette Reskin, which would consist of a bronze casting of their artist’s palette to be placed on a manmade rock at Chandler Hovey Park.  The request was approved.

Projects: Peter reported he had a notice of intent for the small pavilion replacement at Devereux Beach which should be done the first week in December. The Seaside Park infield repair has been completed. The water line at the Stramski house should be done next week and other work is being done with the help of Essex Tech students.

A plaque with Article 32 written it from the Cultural Council will be hung in the building lobby.

Park Update – A tree has been taken down near the lighthouse.

A  temporary fix has been made to the sidewalk at Redd’s Pond.  The Highway Department and Town Administrator are working on a permanent improvement to the sidewalk.   Sidewalks aren’t  Rec. and Parks Dept. responsibility.Leaves and trash have been picked up, and lawn cutting is mostly done.

Irrigation is fully off. The tarps at Seaside will go down in mid December.

Recreation– Jaime gave a report on spending from the revolving fund, comparing last year and this year.   She will ask for more money be put into the fund as programs, and employee hours have expanded. Recreational basketball has started.   This is the biggest program in the winter. The indoor park will start this week.

There was a presentation and discussion of the things Rec and Parks provides for the schools:  field usage for sports including tennis and field hockey at Seaside, high school and middle school cross country at Gatchell’s, field trips to Hamond Nature Center, field days at Seaside, Glabicky Park, Hobbs, and the Carnival at Devereux.   The Rec and Parks department uses the field house for basketball, the weight room, a high school classroom, and Piper Field, mostly in the summer.

The Elf in Training event will be on December 15 (a school half day).

Planning Board ADU Hearing- November 15, 2022

LWVM Observer – Cathy Marie Michael

Agenda: Listen to public testimony and concerns with Accessory Dwelling Units, ADUs

Recap, Power Point of previous meetings given by R Schaeffner of Planning Board:

Benefits of ADUs:

  • Allow for family to live on same property
  • Provide rental income, especially for retirees
  • Allow seniors with large houses to age in place
  • ADUs tend to be lower priced, so “naturally” affordable
  • Converting illegal apartments to legal ADUs can improve safety
  • Distribute new housing within existing buildings rather than new larger buildings

Draft Rules – open for discussion/comment

  • One ADU per property
  • Either ADU or primary residence must be owner occupied
  • One parking space for each ADU must be provided
  • The units cannot be sold independently of each other
  • Short term rentals (AIRBNBs) are prohibited
  • Process — by right in certain circumstances and by special permit in others

Items still up in the air

  • Size limitation- Limit to 2 bedroom or a maximum of 1000sqft?
  • How to ensure rules are followed — affidavits, certifications, annual inspections
  • Limit rent to 70% or area rents as determined by HUD (greater affordability) or no restriction (more likely to be built)

Public Comments:

  • Kurt James – In favor of affordability. Salem has used 70% of going rate can use not more than 30% of income
  • Probably necessary to implement state or town incentives to make it worthwhile for homeowners such as
    • Subsidize the lower rent
    • A grant through the Affordable Housing Trust
    • Property tax exemption
  • Will current in-law apartments qualify? Yes, can be brought up to code – complete an application to make sure it meets all requirements.
  • Will there be a limit on number of occupants in an ADU?
  • Erin Noonan – There is NO flood of applications in other towns. Seems they are being stifled. Her question was parked for future discussion.
  • Lou Meyi – Town could offer loans at an affordable rate. Most banks do not offer loans for this. 

Next Steps:

Warrant article for Town Meeting 2023 must be drafted by January 28, 2022. PB will draft with enough time to elicit more comments.

For more info: Research Paper: Pioneer Institute:


FINANCE COMMITTEE (Fin Com) November 14, 2022

LWVM Observer – Katharine Redmond

By unanimous vote the committee elected the following officers for this budget year:  Alec Goolsby (Chair), Pat Franklin (Vice Chair), and Cameron Staples. (Vice Chair)

FY24 Budget Schedule:

  • Fin Com will send out a request to all town departments to submit their proposed FY24 budgets the week of December 12.
  • Select Board will review the collected budgets in early January
  • State of the Town Meeting: January 12
  • Fin Com liaison meetings: January – March 3
  • Full Fin Com review and approval of all budgets in meetings scheduled for 2/13, 2/27, 3/13, and 3/27
  • Warrant Night: April 3
  • Town Meeting: May 1

ClearGov Budget Software overview by Town Administrator, Thatcher Kezer

  • The position of Town Finance Director, vacant since early 2022, has not been staffed yet.  Meanwhile, Thatcher is filling in assisted by John McGinn.  John is working for the Town as a part time consultant performing financial duties such as preparing and filing required reports to the Department of Revenue.
  • Additionally, the Select Board has contracted ClearGov Budget Software to modernize and improve the Town’s budgeting systems and to enable more efficient means of building operating, personnel, and capital budgets.  It will take a several months to get the new system up and running and for the current year. It will run alongside the town’s traditional budget process.  The software is cloud based and each member of Fin Com will have their individual logins.  They will not be able to change data in the system, but they will have the ability to run what-if scenarios, a valuable planning tool.
  • The Initial cost of the software is $28,433.33 and there will be an annual fee of approximately $38,000.

FY 23 Transfer request: The committee unanimously approved the request to transfer $28,433.33 – the ClearGov “on boarding” fee – from the Fin Com Reserve Fund to the Fin Com IT budget line.

FY23 Town Meeting Article 44 (Open Meeting Law Compliance) Study Committee: Pat Franklin Fin Com/Article 44 liaison

  • The committee was formed to report on and calculate the costs of implementing Article 44
  • It has identified 6 possible locations for use by groups subject to open meeting laws:  Mary Alley building, Abbot Hall, The Jacobi Community Center, Abbot Public Library (including its interim location at the Eveleth School), Marblehead High School, and the Marblehead Municipal Light Department.
  • In the spirit of brainstorming for the committee’s liaison, Pat, Fin Com members discussed possible costs including one-time infrastructure needs for each location, equipment/technology costs, periodic maintenance of equipment and software, training, identifying, and paying staff to facilitate/manage the technology at meetings, costs of video recordings and their storage, etc.  Just a few of the many reflections expressed by Fin Com members included the possibility of having tech savvy MHS students get involved in facilitation; of the need to consider folding costs into the FY24 budget process; of the concern that it would be problematical to expect to have July 1, 2023, as a starting date if the new warrant is approved at Town Meeting.
  • There was also considerable discussion about adopting requirements for open meetings which might exceed Massachusetts law.  What would the implications be?

The minutes of Article 44 Study Committee meetings will be posted on the Town website under “Minutes/Agendas.”