Marshfield’s Special Town Meeting wrapped up in one session Monday night but a few articles brought on debate.
Since 2004, Fire Chief Kevin Robinson has asked that the Massasoit Avenue station be replaced because of the building’s weakening condition and inability to properly house large fire trucks.
After multiple failed attempts to either renovate or rebuild, voters were given a $3.5 million option which includes the complete demolition of the current fire station as well as the construction of a new one at the same site.
One Marshfield man believes the town has waited long enough, “The next really bad hurricane could take and cause failure of that building, perhaps collapse of walls [because] we have walls with major cracks. One reason this building is as expensive as it is, is because it has to stand up to the coastal storms we experience.”
However, other residents argue that if taxpayer dollars are spent to build a new fire station there won’t be much leftover for coastal infrastructure. “I do think it’s not fair to be telling people like the people who live near the seawalls that we don’t have any money…but we have the police station, we have other fire stations, and we’re always saying we don’t have money for projects,” says Pam Keith
The fire station request was approved. According to Marshfield’s Treasurer/ Collector, building a new fire station will increase the average taxpayer’s annual bill by about $30 the first year of the loan. Construction is expected to begin this spring.
Article 12 asked voters to approve the purchase of a new Harbormaster vessel which raised the eyebrows of some residents.
A grant from the Department of Homeland Security has been secured to buy a vessel but Marshfield is required to pay 25% of the cost which totals to a little less than a $100,000.
Because the proposed vessel is larger and has advanced equipment some believe the vessel would transform the Marshfield Harbormaster Department into the U.S Coast Guard, such as one Marshfield mariner, “You’re really looking at a Coast Guard vessel and in order to operate it requires special training and the equipment you want to put on it requires special training. I don’t think the taxpayers of the Town of Marshfield should be the U.S Coast Guard.”
But another Marshfield resident spoke in favor, noting that the money used to purchase the vessel would come from the waterways fund which is comprised of boating fees. “I think this really an upgrade in public safety equipment for the Town of Marshfield. We have seven miles of coastway as well as two major rivers that have to be patrolled and it’s really the users not the taxpayers in general that are going to be paying for the protection of the waterways,” says John White
Marshfield voters approved funding the new vessel. The Harbormaster believes that once the old vessel is auctioned off, the cost will drop by about $30,000.
Fire Chief Kevin Robinson addressing audience
Police Chief Phil Tavares speaking in favor of the proposed Harbormaster vessel