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Observing our 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.


Meeting Recorded by Video 

LWVM Observer: Maggie Smist

Public Comments: A question was asked about posting the agenda earlier – Joe said he aims for one week before. A follow-up question was asked about time of 4 p.m. for meeting and the difficulty of that time for the public to attend. MMLD board commented that time is planned around the best time for members of the board. A follow-up question was asked about if minutes are posted, and Joe stated they are on the website. A final question was asked about a green space near the attendee’s home – the board discussed adding this to a future agenda.

Power portfolio update: This update was not a voting item today – Joe asked for discussion about approach from this topic from the MMLD Board.

Lisa and Joe created a graph showing data from a Green Marblehead report. It represents the Marblehead ‘big picture’ showing total energy used over the past decade, and that Marblehead demand for electricity has been remaining flat. Based on climate concerns and state requirements around electrification, the MMLD and ISO New England are now forecasting growth for Marblehead over the next ten years.

The graph is also projecting target minimum state goals for green energy over the next 20-30 years and the graph is showing whether Marblehead will meet its goals. In 2040, we don’t have a clear plan on how we will meet required state green energy goals. There was a discussion of how MMLD must include off-shore wind into our portfolio to help us meet goals.

Green Marblehead goals are also reflected on the graph and is pushing up the state targets of 2050 to ten years earlier. Graph shows nuclear, hydro, carbon-free, and wind energy levels. Solar is not reflected on this graph but it should be considered as we set goals. This graph will continue to be presented to the public.

Jean Jacques discussed how there will be other sources or there are other sources that exist to give us good, cheap long-term contracts. He stated the importance of being aggressive about pursuing these contracts. Jean Jacque thanked the Green Marblehead team for their work, and he asked for five-year goals, aiming for something reachable.

Discussion followed regarding other municipalities and how their portfolios are made up of carbon free, and how it compares to Marblehead.

Motion was put for forth for a more aggressive target based on Jean Jacques request – Goal of reaching 70 percent carbon free within five years and 85 percent carbon free within 10 years. Discussion ensued. Graphs of current portfolio and proposed projects were highlighted.  Cost per kilowatt hour was discussed. Graph of proposed projects versus school solar was presented and discussed. Joe is meeting with EMWIC to discuss the school solar numbers to resolve questions. Discussion of grants to help put roofs on schools since MMLD will be responsible for roofs if panels put on. Joe mentioned policy decisions that need to be made by state over the next years regarding wind and solar. Discussion on difficulty of reaching goals within five years – it is aspirational.

Motion seconded and vote taken. Vote: all yes with one no

There were general comments from the public about the vote taken. Further discussion and explanation occurred.

Solar on Schools Discussion: Justin and Zoe reported on these programs which are eligible for federal tax exemptions. Map was shown of Marblehead of available credits for various school locations in town.

A rooftop solar project financial analysis was presented. Cost of kilowatt hour for the solar was discussed year over year by comparing the cost and revenue. The board is reviewing this for the first time, but a decision needs to be made by the MMLD on solar. Lisa asked MMWEC representatives for additional assumptions to be built into the model.

There will be a meeting this Thursday and MMLD attorney will be there for further discussion on power options based on the graph and its assumptions. The committee will continue to work with the graph and explore options.   

Coastal Zone Management (CZM) grant update: Tomorrow is important deadline for application to MA. EPA for a MA. EPA permit to do this work. Joe stated it is a significant document and he presented a few slides to explain the work that will need to happen (i.e.: docks replaced, seawalls redone or moved, etc.). It will become a significant dredging project and at the same time, public access is to be expanded.

No decision needs to be made by the board – the application will be submitted although Joe did ask the board to review a letter that was sent with the grant. Joe will begin going out for bids on this project.

80 Commercial St. fence update: Bid came in that seemed high – plan is to resubmit it in a smaller scope after consultation with the town attorney. Jean Jacque had asked for tighter parameters, which would also lower cost.

GM updates

  • There will be a PPA rate reduction in June
  • Bessom Street entry to Village 13 – Mike met with property owner and abutter easement has been OK’d.
  • Utility battery site location – Vine Street/Rec and Park is not an option. Mike and Joe went to site and specified footprint but Rec and Park said it would not work. Locations on 23 Tioga Way were visited and Joe encouraged MMLD members to visit the site. Public comments asked about this process: question asked when neighbors will be notified of possible construction since she did not want any backlash. Mike explained a solution is a public forum for abutters after the engineer has been on the site.  
  • Union Contract update 2023-2026 – negotiations are complete and contracts are signed. One outstanding item is cost of benefits which town needs to provide.
  • APPA certificate of excellence in reliability was received.


TASKE FORCE AGAINST DISCRIMINATION    6-1-23 via Zoom              

Meeting not recorded

LWVM Observer:  Shari Pressman

Update on Marblehead Police Department: Chief Dennis King couldn’t attend in person but left message for Helaine. No new incidents to report; MPD is helping with Pride Day and working with the ADL.

Report on Marblehead Public Schools: Candice reported that Team Harmony was able to reach all third grades and, for the first time, students at MHS. They didn’t get to Veterans or Village this year because of scheduling. Candice believes visit dates should be handled by administrators with the dates confirmed for schools early in the school year. She would like to focus first on MHS, then Veterans.  “Times have changed. (Team Harmony) is more important than ever” she noted.

Juneteenth Celebration is scheduled for Wednesday, June 14 on Abbot Hall grounds beginning at 4:30. Emcees are TFAD student reps Celia Sliney and Helina Tadesse. Greg Coles will open the program with African Drumming and Storytelling, followed by speakers Jackie Belf-Becker, Select Board member; Nicole McClain, director of the North Shore Juneteenth Association (NSJA); student poet Damilola Graciella Olabisi; MHS students speaking about “A World with Justice;” and the Rev. Andre Bennett, pastor of youth and young adults at Zion Baptist Church in Lynn. The Black National Anthem will be sung by Tanya Crowell. Organizers Candice and Diane report that flyers are ready at schools and will be posted in other locations. Juneteenth is presented in conjunction with NSJA and funded by a $1000 grant.

Update on Marblehead Pride Day: Reece announced plans for the program beginning at 3:00 p.m. on June 3 on Abbot Hall grounds.  Select Board members Jackie Belf-Becker and Alexa Singer; Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Buckey; State Rep. Jenny Armini; Rev. James Bixby, pastor of Clifton Lutheran Church and co-chair of MRJT; sixth-grade teacher Natalie Belli; and a representative from the LGBTQ+ community will speak. The Jeweltones, MHS’s A cappella chorus, will perform.

The Beacon Restaurant, 123 Pleasant St, will hold a Pride Celebration fundraiser on Sunday, June 4 from 4:00 p.m. “until the dancing ends.” 

Update on Marblehead Festival of Arts: Chris, Kim and Reece designed an orb (like an ornament) and created it at Hestia Products to represent TFAD at the festival. The orbs will be hidden in various locations in town and displayed on social media sites when they’re found.

Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15):  A motion was made and passed unanimously supporting Helaine and Sarai going before the Select Board to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month in Marblehead with a proclamation.

Update from Marblehead Racial Justice Team: Liaisons Louis Meyi and Jay Morrison: Conversations on Race will end its yearlong programming at 7:00, Monday evening, June 26 at the Marblehead Museum with “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” Panelists will speak about how working for racial justice has changed and what they see for the future. 

Portraits of Harriet Tubman and John Lewis were installed at Glover School on May 5. All students were present.  The first-graders sang, according to Jay, a “very moving” rendition of several songs. The portraits will be reinstalled annually at each school in town.

Negro Election Day will be celebrated on the third Saturday in July (July 15) with a parade to The Willows in Salem. Candice thanked Lindsay Smith, from MRJT for her help reaching youth.

Next meeting: Thursday, July 13 at 7:00 pm