Selectmen say using $135,000 grant on empty building a 'waste'
A vacant building owned by the Community Economic Development Authority will receive up to $134,900 worth of renovations, even though Selectmen said the project is a “waste.”
On Tuesday, board members reluctantly gave final approval for work to begin at 4 Recovery Road. Located in the Wareham Industrial Park in West Wareham, the building used to house the Christopher Donovan Day School, which has since moved to the Hammond School in Onset.
The grant funds were part of the town's 2014 Community Development Block Grant, offered through the state's Department of Housing and Community Development and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“I think it’s a terrible waste of government money that should not have gone this far,” said Selectman Peter Teitelbaum.
Selectmen expressed frustration at using funds for an empty building that will likely soon be sold. Those funds could have been used for more deserving projects, said Teitelbaum.
“We have to understand when we put money into this building, we’re not getting it back,” he said.
On the other hand, the board’s hands were tied, as the town needs to wrap up the work approved in the 2014 grant or risk trouble in obtaining future grant funds.
“Frankly, I’d like to see this go away,” said Teitelbaum. “But I don’t want to lose next year’s grant.”
Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said that once the school moved, the building no longer offered the “highest and best” use for the town.
In response to the board’s objections – “I don’t think anybody’s happy about this,” said Selectman Alan Slavin – Sullivan noted that with a streamlining of the town’s planning operations coming to fruition, similar problems would be avoided.
“This is a symptom of what we’ve been trying to cure,” said Sullivan. “This is something we have to review and this will be part of the changes we make.”