Residents share ideas for redevelopment of downtown Wareham

Sep 1, 2022

More greenspace, rooftop dining and kayak rentals — residents had all sorts of ideas for what they’d like to see in Wareham Village in the coming years, suggestions that were discussed at this week’s Wareham Redevelopment Authority meeting.

On Thursday, redevelopment authority members and Emily Innes, a contracted consultant for the plan’s development, discussed survey results and comments from a public meeting held earlier in August. The outreach efforts were meant to garner community feedback on the town’s ongoing development for an Urban Renewal Plan for downtown Wareham.

Members analyzed the key takeaways of residents’ comments and the demographic makeup of who responded.

Residents stopped by the old train station on Merchants Way during two public meetings to look at maps of what Wareham Village might look like in coming years. The public has also been encouraged to submit responses to a now-closed town survey asking for their opinions on the future of downtown.

“Bury the utilities!” read one comment scrawled on a map at a public meeting. “Start sea wall construction now!” another said.

Residents had lots of ideas for what they want to see in the Main Street/Merchants Way stretch in downtown. Rooftop and outdoor dining was a popular suggestion, along with some space for apartments above stores along Main Street.

Some residents suggested keeping downtown buildings to about a four-floor maximum. Public art on wall and ground murals were oft-mentioned components of the future of Wareham Village, along with more greenspace and a coastal path along the Wareham River.

One suggestion asked for a boardwalk and water taxi service and referenced Vancouver as a possible model for that service. Another resident thought a kayak rental space on the river could be a good idea.

In all, 90 residents answered the online survey, Innes told the authority. Currently, most people visit Wareham Village for its restaurants or to stop by the post office, according to the survey.

But the residents who responded to the survey weren’t entirely reflective of the town’s demographics overall — about half of the survey’s respondents were 65 years old or older, Innes said during her report.

Reaching the younger generations is a key focus moving forward, members said in their discussion.

Next steps for the redevelopment authority include another meeting in November for more public outreach.