'You shouldn't paint over rust' at the Town House

May 05, 2018

To the Editor:

Citizens of Marion,

Mr. North’s citizen petition calls for a Preservation Bylaw which would add a line item to the general fund budget every year for the next five years in order to complete the projects required to repair and maintain the Town House.  Stretching these repairs over 5 years is not feasible, much more expensive in the long run, and subject to an annual Town vote which could conceivably halt any project midstream to take care of more pressing issues.  Here are a few points Mr. North seems to ignore:

The list of repairs required includes: remove asbestos; comply with accessibility code requirements for elevators, toilets, fire alarms; provide sprinklers; insulate roof and exterior; replace 100+ year-old single pane windows for heating efficiency; fix code violation of no fresh air makeup – and more.  We already have a “TH triage needs list”.  It includes these major projects before we add a new coat of paint as he seems to think is a priority.

Any one of these projects require transferring employees to another location for some period of time to continue Town business.  Is Mr. North proposing that we stretch this relocation out over 5 or 10 years in order to fund the project out of the General Fund?  Are we going to lease space elsewhere and change delivery of services to a new location indefinitely?

Is Mr. North proposing we buy materials (windows, siding, framing) piecemeal in order to fit into the budget?  In that case we give up economies from buying wholesale.

Stretching this project out indefinitely subjects us to inflationary cost increases of 4-5 percent in construction and labor costs every year.  Borrowing costs right now are less expensive than they will ever be in the future.

Mr. North says that all the Town House needs is some TLC.  In order to do the renovation job completely and correctly, we need to tackle these major projects which have been deferred for the past 50 years.  And I learned one important lesson in my time in the Navy – you shouldn’t paint over rust.

Allan Ditchfield, Marion

Comments (2)
Posted by: Ted North | May 06, 2018 10:48

More Miss Directed Town House Committee Hyperbole

The 2011 Durland Van Voorhis Town House (TH) Existing Condition Assessment Repot states “the building is in generally good condition” and “The building currently complies with code…”  The report further states there is a “need for a long-term renovation plan to coordinate multiple incremental improvements”.


The Town House Committee (THC) on which Priscilla Ditchfield is a long-term member never followed up on the Durland Van Vooris recommendations of a logical and economic repair and maintenance program.  The Durland Report recommendations and project lists are the underlying thesis of the Article 36 bylaw to keep the TH in good order and repair operating uninterrupted for town administration.


Instead the THC embarked on a grandiose and unrealistic design program utilizing funding from $645,000 in Town Meeting authorizations to first develop a $28, million town house library complex which the THC has subsequently reduced to its current $14 million” gut and replace” TH program when all that is necessary is a maintenance and repair program taxpayers can afford.


Never once does the THC and its supporters consider or even acknowledge the $68.4 million in capital spending listed on the Capital Committee’s ten-year forecast with $40 million in public works spending forecasted within the next four years. That’s a tremendous spending and debt burden for our small town of 2,500 taxpayers.


Meanwhile, like other taxpayers, I wonder when the focus of speeding priorities will switch from the proposed TH third floor 1,200 SF executive site with elevator to fixing the enormous craters in our roads before we lose taxpayers in the big black holes.


Posted by: Semwam | May 07, 2018 12:09

Mr. North

As I stated once before the Town Administrator's office is 323 square feet of office space, it is not 1200 sf.  As for the Van Vooris report, our committee came in 3 years after the report which listed an estimated $5.1 million worth of corrective work. To do that corrective work now especially in bits and pieces would exceed our renovation costs. ADA compliance regulations, The International Energy Code and International Mechanical Codes have changed since the Van Vooris report. Everyone talks about extras when doing a renovation, well doing patch work renovation is when you run into the unexpected. Total renovation is the only approach.

Wayne A. Mattson, Marion

If you wish to comment, please login.