Marblehead Town Meeting on tap tonight

MARBLEHEAD – Voters will consider the $1.6 million purchase of the Chadwick Lead Mills property on Lafayette Street at Town Meeting, as well as a compromise on the much-discussed leaf-blower ban.Town Meeting convenes this evening at 7:45 p.m. at the Veterans Middle School.The 4.85-acre Lead Mills site, mostly in Marblehead, could be used for recreation or other town purposes.Selectmen approved signing an option agreement Wednesday that will allow the town to purchase the property in partnership with Salem, which contains a smaller portion of the property.Salem?s share of the price is $100,000 and Marblehead will be paying $1.5 million, but Town Planner Rebecca Curran pointed out that partnering with Salem makes the two communities eligible for as much as $400,000 reimbursement through a PARC grant from the Executive Office of the Environment and Energy Affairs.?Without Salem?s involvement the largest grant we could receive is $50,000,” she said.Curran noted that the property was appraised at $2 million in March. She said the negotiated lower price was possible “through the generosity” of property owner Richard Bane.A developer, Glover Estates, planned to build housing there but took no further action since last year?s clean-up of lead and other soil contaminants.The purchase will require a favorable vote at Town Meeting, followed by another favorable vote in a debt exclusion override election in June.Curran said the purchase would be financed by a 20-year bond issue. “It will cost the owner of a $488,000 median home $10.57 a year on their tax bill, for 20 years,” she said. “The owner of an average $661,384 home will pay an additional $14.32 on their bill per year.”Christopher Bergonzi and Pat Beckett visited the Board of Health Wednesday to discuss their compromise proposal, a seasonal ban on gas-powered leaf-blowers from May 15-Sept. 15. Battery-powered and electric leaf-blowers will be allowed.Bergonzi noted that he has seen less leaf-blower use since the proposal was first publicized and some landscapers want to regulate the use themselves, without any bylaw.Both advocates tried repeatedly to get the board to support their proposal, without success. While board member Michelle Gottlieb, who was absent, gave her colleagues a written statement in favor of it, Chairman Helaine Hazlett and Todd BelfBecker said they could not join her officially.?This isn?t a Board of Health article, it?s a citizens? article,” Belf-Becker said. “We haven?t done the groundwork.”Director of Public Health Andrew Petty pointed out that similar bans in Brookline and Cambridge passed without Board of Health support. “I think the board needs to do a little more homework,” he said.?We?re not going to fight it and we?re not going to support it,” Hazlett said.Beckett said she was disappointed but added, “I respect this board.”

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