It's time to move forward in Marion

Apr 17, 2018

To the Editor:

It is time to give the town’s dedicated staff a better place to work. Seven long years ago a building study revealed how much work the Town House needed and what it would cost to simply repair it.

The study triggered the appointment of a building committee that soon determined piecemeal repairs could never turn the building into a good Town Hall. The committee recognized that a full renovation of the building would be too expensive, and looked into many alternative plans that would cost less.

The present plan gradually evolved as the committee responded to comments from the citizens of Marion. The new proposal calls for reducing the size of the present building by demolishing the rear annex and renovating only the space needed for town offices. The extent of the renovated area was reduced to half the size of the present structure. The interior will be gutted to bare studs, brought up to code, and totally refurbished. The office layout will became more open and efficient and will require less than half the heating fuel of the present building. The building’s exterior will have new doors and windows while classic details of the historic structure are preserved.

Yes, the work is expensive, but after years of neglect this project respects Elizabeth Tabor’s incredible generosity to the Town, and finally gives our municipal employees the fresh new office space they deserve. Please support this worthy project at Town Meeting on May 14.

Bill Saltonstall

Comments (3)
Posted by: Ted North | Apr 19, 2018 11:56

Miss Use of CPC Funds for Town House” TH” Historic Restoration??


CPC Funds at Issue

Proposed TH project  $860,000 ; Authorizations for Designs , $500,000 of which $145,000  remaining to be spent   

TOTAL $1,368,000

It looks to me the Marion Board of Selectmen, Community Preservation Committee and Town House Committee may have miss appropriated $1,386,000 actual and proposed CPC funds. The TH is not a qualifying historic site so designated by a qualifying local Historic Commission using Department of the Interior’s preservation standards. The Community Preservation Committee is not the Historic Commission,


MGL c44B s.2 Community Preservation


''Historic resources'', a building, structure, …….. has been determined by the local historic preservation commission (emphasis added) to be significant in the history, ……… architecture or culture of a city or town.

''Rehabilitation'', capital improvements, or the making of extraordinary repairs, to historic resources, …..  for the purpose of making such historic resources …………functional for their intended uses including, but not limited to, improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal, state or local building or access codes; provided, that with respect to historic resources, ''rehabilitation'' shall comply with the Standards for Rehabilitation stated in the United States Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties codified in 36 C.P.R. Part 68; ……….( emphasis added)


Federal Standards

The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation the Standards (Department of Interior regulations, 36 CFR 67) pertain to historic buildings of all materials, construction types, sizes, and occupancy and encompass the exterior and the interior, related landscape features and the building's site and environment as well as attached, adjacent, or related new construction. The Standards are to be applied to specific rehabilitation projects in a reasonable manner, taking into consideration economic and technical feasibility.


The statute requires the Historic Commission to follow the Department of the interior guidelines. Considering the TH is to be gutted its questionable the guide lines are going to be met.

 1. A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment. 

2. The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided. 

3. Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken.

4. Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved. 

5. Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property shall be preserved. 

6. Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence. 

7. Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used. The surface cleaning of structures, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. 

8. Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken. 

9. New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment. 

10. New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.



Chapter 40 Section 53: Restraint of illegal appropriations; ten taxpayer actions

Section 53. If a town,….. or any of its officers or agents are about to raise or expend money or incur obligations purporting to bind said town, …..for any purpose or object or in any manner other than that for and in which such town, …. has the legal and constitutional right and power to raise or expend money or incur obligations, the supreme judicial or superior court may, upon petition of not less than ten taxable inhabitants of the town,….determine the same in equity, and may, before the final determination of the cause, restrain the unlawful exercise or abuse of such corporate power.

Note: Non-residents of Marion who pay taxes qualify.


Posted by: Semwam | Apr 22, 2018 13:42

Such funds are frequently used for local preservation projects, for example the Handy’s Tavern and Masonic Hall improvements in recent years. As one of the town’s most historically and architecturally significant structures, the Town House is a most suitable recipient of Community Preservation funds, past and future .

Posted by: Semwam | Apr 22, 2018 15:19

The Marion Art Center should have been added to the list. Also to be noted is The Town House is included in the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System ( MACRIS) as an Architectural and Historically significant building and has been recommended in MACRIS as a candidate for the National Registry of Historic Buildings. The building is also cited as a "Key Cultural Asset" in The Marion Master Plan.

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