Opinion: What’s the urgency around Decas?
Apr 20, 2022
To the Editor:
Spring town meeting is on Monday, April 25th at 7 pm at Wareham High School. We will hear an interim report from the Decas Steering Committee about community use of the building. I urge you to vote yes on articles 23 and 24 to hear and move forward on the recommendations of the committee.
What's the urgency around hearing their report and implementing their recommendations?
- Buildings don't fare well when left unoccupied for extended periods. Getting town programs back into Decas will prevent the damage that happens to vacant buildings. We’ve let the Everett School, the West Wareham School and the East Wareham School on Depot St. crumble and go to waste. Let’s not repeat those mistakes.
- The funding model for running the proposed community center at Decas relies on renting space in the building to education-oriented organizations and non-profits. South Shore Community Action's Head Start is a great example. They're looking to move into a long-term home and Decas is their best option. They've patiently waited for a year hoping they can stay in Wareham. Renting space in Decas will allow them to add 12 jobs and serve 30-60% more families. Their federal grant allows them to make significant investments in the building. Organizations like Head Start can't wait forever: they'll ultimately need to move on if we can't get our act together.
- Wareham has noted the need for a community center since at least the 1980s but we keep kicking the can down the road. Our 2020 Master Plan says we need a community center and specifically lists Decas as a building we should save. We have a building we already own that we can use to accomplish this long-standing goal. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If we spend $1 million to demolish the building and sell the land, that's one time money and not enough to build a brand new facility at ever increasing post-Covid construction rates.
This is the time. We have 23,000 reasons to feel a sense of urgency: young people and seniors and everyone in between who need a real community hub where they can access services, learn, gain new skills, congregate, socialize and more.
Leslie Edwards Davis