Local Government and Politics, News

Marblehead approves $9M upgrade to Abbot Hall

Historic Abbot Hall, the center of town government, built in 1876, will get a makeover. (Owen O'Rourke)

MARBLEHEAD — Town Meeting approved a $9 million renovation to Town Hall, increased mooring fees, and nearly  $900,000 to repair or construct seawalls.

More than 500 voters packed the Performing Arts Center at the Veterans Middle School to consider four dozen issues.

Historic Abbot Hall, the center of town government, built in 1876, will get a makeover. The improvements will include work to the exterior brick and sandstone, and repairs to damaged gutters and wood trim, and a new HVAC system.

The project will require an override vote.  

Also approved were repairs to the Front Street, Grace Oliver Beach, and Fort seawalls to protect roads and homes.

The Marblehead Rail Trail, a 4.1-mile trail that connects Marblehead, Salem and Swampscott, won an easement for use by pedestrians and bikes.

It will cost more to dock your boat. Mooring fees will increase to $8, up from $6.50 per foot for Marblehead Harbor, Little Harbor, and Dolibers Cove. Fees at all other locations will rise to $7 from $5.50. Commercial fishermen will get a $3.50 per foot rebate, an increase from $3.

David Harris, member of the School Study Committee, updated voters on the status of building a new school to replace facilities that date as far back as 1906.

Under the proposal, a new 450-student facility would be built at the site of the Malcolm L. Bell School on Baldwin Road. The town is working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, a quasi-independent authority that funds school construction, to build a new elementary school that would combine and replace the Elbridge Gerry, L.H. Coffin, and Bell elementary schools.

Harris said the Baldwin Road location will have the least traffic impacts in town; the new facility would be more efficient; allow for public use of the new gym when not in use by the school; and provide plenty of off-street parking.

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