Affordable housing, historic preservation on Town Meeting agenda

Feb 9, 2023

The Community Preservation Committee has voted to put eight articles on the agenda for this spring’s Town Meeting, leaving it up to voters to approve $2.5 million in open space, historical preservation and affordable housing projects.

The articles were approved at the Community Preservation Committee meetings on Wednesday, Jan. 26 and Wednesday, Feb. 8. 

“The community decides which [articles] are a go,” said Community Preservation Committee Co-Chair Sandra Slavin. “We don’t approve anything, other than to vet them to see whether they qualify for Community Preservation Act funds.”

The Community Preservation Act allows towns to set money aside to build affordable housing, as well as preserve open space and historic buildings.

The project with the biggest price tag is the $1.08 million renovation of Bayview Park in Onset.

The new and improved Bayview Park would feature a plethora of accessibility and aesthetic improvements, such as a widened sidewalk on Onset Avenue, a ramp leading to the gazebo, metal guardrails and fencing around the Memorial Rock. Municipal Maintenance would also install more lighting, move benches to spots with scenic waterfront views, prune trees and plant new greenery.

Forty-nine thousand dollars could go to the Wareham Land Trust’s purchase of the 12-acre Sawyer Conservation Land off of Red Brook Road, ensuring that there is no development on the open space. 

“It abuts various conservation lands already,” Slavin said, “so it’s part of that trail network already.”

Also on Red Brook Road, $400,000 of Community Preservation Act funding could be used to build 63 affordable apartments in the Woodland Cove complex. 

Over 90 units of affordable housing for families and senior citizens could be built on Littleton Drive at a cost of $300,000.

The Depot Train Station, West Wareham School and Tremont Nail Company office building could all be restored, at costs of $400,000, $80,000 and $200,000 respectively. 

Slavin said these restorations are sorely needed. The front of the Tremont Nail office building needs to be stripped of its flaking lead paint and have its broken windows replaced. Fixing the Depot Train Station, she said, would be “a massive project.” 

If the funds are approved at Town Meeting, all three buildings will be protected by a Preservation Restriction. This restriction requires that the buildings be kept in good shape and prevents them from being modernized. 

Finally, the Community Preservation Committee must keep 10% of its expected 2024 revenue in reserve to fund future projects.

“I’ll leave it up to the voters,” Slavin said. “Every applicant will be able to come to the voters and make their case… Other than that, we have no comment.”