New Marion Town House feasibility study approved

By Andrea Ray | May 09, 2017

Marion — $600,000 has already been spent on feasibility studies for a possible new Marion Town House, according to Marion Town Accountant Judith Mooney. When Mooney announced the number at Marion's Town Meeting Monday night, the amount took the crowd aback - murmurs broke out as it was announced.

Nevertheless, town voters approved a further $33,400 to draw up a new feasibility study of a possible Town House on the property of Marion’s former VFW, at 465 Mill Street.

The lot on which the former VFW sits is 7 acres, and the town was only gifted the property in December of 2016. Therefore no feasibility studies have been conducted on a possible Town House on that location.

That fact seemed crucial to voters, who repeatedly noted that they should have all of the possible facts before making a final decision on the Town House. “I like having all the info in front of me,” said resident Andrew Daniel. “We need to see what both options would cost us. We need to look at all the options and make the most responsible choice. For $35,000, I’d be willing to do it.”

Marion Finance Committee Chairman Alan Minard explained the situation. “There’s a good bit of emotion for keeping the Town House in the center of the village. There’s no info that we can rely on for the cost of building on the VFW site. The idea of spending the $35,000 is to arrive at a final cost for building the Town House elsewhere. Then we can decide whether to keep the village location or build a new building," he said.

He went on to explain that if it turned out that the new building would cost $7 million compared with the $7.9 million figure given for restoring the current Town House, he expected most people would vote to keep it in the village.

However, he noted, if the cost of building at the former VFW site was $4 million, he expected that voters might choose to go the opposite way.

Some residents were less than enthused with another study and another cost. One resident asked the selectmen, “What would it take to stop all of the studies and investigations and simply educate people about the options available to us now and move on?”

Selectman Stephen Cushing didn't have any options, but agreed with the sentiment. “I don't know what we could do. We should’ve moved on a long time ago. Every year, the costs for building new or restoring the old building rise six to eight percent."

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