Unity of effort is a concept in which all the various sub-units of a group work together efficiently to accomplish a specific goal. During its second meeting Monday morning, the Rebuild Marlinton Task Force – a town committee formed to spearhead reconstruction following the November 10 fire – discussed the need for unity of effort.
Task Force member Fred Burns, Jr. expressed concern that the public is confused about which group is in charge of downtown reconstruction.
“I’m concerned that we’ve got this organization, the Chamber of Commerce and GoMarlinton all working on this,” he said. “Maybe we ought to coordinate and do this properly. I think we need to get together and solve who’s going to handle this problem.”
Burns asked about a GoMarlinton meeting later that evening.
GoMarlinton board member and former mayor Dennis Driscoll said GoMarlinton was holding a previously scheduled meeting with State Development Office officials, and that the group would be discussing how to assist with the reconstruction effort. Driscoll explained that GoMarlinton has been working on improvement of an eight-block area, including the fire-devastated half-block, since before the November 10 fire, and planned to continue seeking private grants for downtown improvement.
“I understand what Fred’s saying,” said Task Force Chairman Steve Weir. “Some part of this I see as information just coming to us. The people who want to be involved are sending us information how they can help, but they’re not taking any direct action. That’s fine. But I think that the State Development Office – if they’re going to get involved with this issue – then it should be through this committee.”
Task Force member Robin Mutscheller also stressed the need for unity.
“If there was ever a time for our town to avoid multiple efforts, it would be now,” she said. “We need one voice, one direction.”
Smith reported some good news regarding asbestos testing. The mayor said that debris on the Hudson’s lot, the Dirt Bean lot and the Main Street portion of the Old Bank Building lot had tested negative for asbestos, and that removal of debris from those areas could begin. Smith said a trace amount of asbestos had been detected on the rear portion of the Old Bank Building lot, but that final testing could result negative, or a waiver could be obtained for minute amounts.
“The DEP [Department of Environmental Protection] has waivered these things,” he said. “If it’s a minute amount, they have waivered having to go to a certified landfill. If it’s just one isolated sample, chances are they will go in and clean that area up – just that small, isolated area – and then the rest of it can go to our landfill.”
The mayor said he had referred interested contractors to the owners’ insurance adjusters for information on contracting for debris removal.
Weir reported that he had spoken to a consultant about the different types of planning studies that can be done for the Task Force. The chairman said the cost of a study could exceed $50,000, but that state and federal planning grants are available for that purpose. Weir said he would contact state legislators and try to set up a meeting to discuss funding, before the next Task Force meeting on December 30.
During its first meeting a week ago, the Task Force established, as its first priority, a meeting with the three property owners in the fire-ravaged half-block to discuss their plans. At that initial meeting, Smith and Burns volunteered to handle the task.
Burns reported that he had met with the Hudsons to discuss their plans, but said the information was personal and had to be discussed in a closed-door, executive session. Smith added that he had contacted the other two owners, Kristy Lanier and Zack Chittum, who could possibly be present in Marlinton for a meeting between next week and early January.
The Task Force concluded its meeting with an executive session for Burns to provide personal information from his discussion with the Hudsons. State law allows closed-door executive sessions for governmental bodies to hear personal information, but requires the body to resume open session after the personal information is disclosed and planning on the issue resumes.
The next Rebuild Marlinton Task Force meeting is scheduled for December 30 at 9 a.m. at the Marlinton Municipal Building