Observing 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

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

Appearances: Brian Wheeler presented the tentative plans for the Festival of Arts performances at Crocker Park from Friday night, June 30, through Tuesday, July 4. He was commended on last year’s festival performances, and the use of Crocker Park was approved.

Maura Dartly Rocco, representing the neighbors of the Vets’ pickle ball courts, gave a comprehensive presentation on the noise levels caused by pickle ball, along with several ideas to mitigate the noise including installing sound blankets on the school’s solid brick wall and planting arborvitae on two sides of the courts. There is also the possibility of using quieter pickle ball rackets and balls. Karin Ernst will call an engineer who specializes in sound mitigation to come evaluate the area and give a price.

Rich Newburg, representing the pickle ball players, asked about the opening of the courts and offered to work with the Vine Street neighbors to help raise money to pay for sound mitigation. Linda suggested that the Seaside Courts be opened instead of the Vets for the next couple of weeks. All of the nets will be put up March 20 when school sports begin, and until then, portable nets will be used. This was approved.

Budget: The proposed budget was discussed and approved with an 11 percent increase and will be presented to the Finance Committee.   Parking, dingy rack fees, and kayak rentals bring in about $200,000 in revenue which goes to the town.

Parks: Peter reported on various jobs and repairs at Riverhead, Stramski’s, and Castle Rock. FEMA is providing funds to correct erosion at Chandler Hovey Park.

The small Pavilion at Devereux Beach should be replaced by early spring. The Seaside Grandstand needs some repair.


  • Jaime reported that when the float storage agreement goes out, it will also include a maintenance and repair application. 
  • Registration for summer programs is very strong.
  • On March 15, kayak permit registration will open at 11:00 a.m.
  • Jaime is working on summer employment.
  • A request for a pickle ball tournament to benefit Alzheimer’s research will be shared with the pickle ball community.
  • Jaime will set up a meeting with the School Committee chairman and the superintendent to discuss the MOU. The space in the Community Center is too limited, and she needs to be able to use the schools for indoor programs.

Correspondence: The Marblehead Family Fund members will have a dedication ceremony on April 28 at Hobbs. The CSA group requested some dates to distribute produce at Stramski’s until they can move their shed to Coffin School.

The next meeting will be Monday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m.

FAIR HOUSING COMMITTEE (FHC) – Feb. 27, 2023 (Hybrid Meeting)       

LWVM Observer – Bonnie Grenier

Discussion of 2023 Committee priorities:

1. Update Website:

  • Review the mission statement.
  • Update with 2020 census information.
  • Include guiding principles (Dirk Isbrandtsen suggested a list of guiding principles which will be discussed at a future meeting).
  • Post housing lotteries for affordable housing opportunities. Marblehead is part of the 23 member North Shore Home Consortium and could post lotteries for all 23 communities.
  • Highlight the availability of assistance with housing matters at the Council on Aging to include how to conduct a housing search, help filling out applications, and rental and homeowner assistance.
  • It was suggested that board members research what other towns have included on their Fair Housing Committee websites and report back at the next meeting with examples and ideas. Perhaps a sub-committee will be formed at a later date to formally oversee the website.


2. Coffin School: Make sure things are moving along with the development of the property as an affordable housing option.

3. Outreach to inform citizens about efforts to promote affordable housing in Marblehead: Connect with MHTV and other local media to get the word out; Create a pamphlet for Town Meeting to explain the warrant article relating to Accessory Dwelling Units.

Update on local affordable housing projects: 

  • Three buildings of rental units will be built at Vinnin Square at site of the former General Glover House Restaurant. Two buildings will be in Swampscott and one in Marblehead. The Marblehead building will have 44 rental units, 11 of which will be affordable (80 percent of AMI). This is a 40R development. (Chapter 40R seeks to substantially increase the supply of housing and decrease its cost, by increasing the amount of land zoned for dense housing.) 
  • Sailmaker Place – A 48 condominium, 40B development by Ted Moore that includes 12 affordable units for sale.


Move forward with MBTA Smart Growth Zoning: New state zoning regulations would allow multi-family houses “by right” in the identified Smart Growth Overlay District. Before this legislation was enacted a special permit would have been required to construct a multi-family unit. It was emphasized that in Marblehead this must be done responsibly so as to not change the character of the town. This is a complicated issue, and the town has hired a consultant to study the matter and guide the town through the process. Eventually there will be outreach via public forums, joint meetings, and other avenues to inform the public on this.

It was proposed that a regular meeting time of the fourth Monday of each month at 1:00 p.m. be established. This will be reconsidered at the next meeting on March 27 at 1:00 p.m.