OPINION: Vote yes on ‘Hospitality District’
To the Editor:
The resurgence of COVID-19 has created new economic and financial uncertainty for cities and towns. Communities that succeed in an increasingly competitive contest for revenue-producing development will be those that prepare now for future opportunities. Projections of COVID-related revenue losses to Wareham provide a clear warning that we must act now to secure our financial future. FXM Associates, a Mattapoisett economic research firm, estimates that Wareham will lose $930,000 to $1,500,000 in revenue over the next five years due to COVID.
A 275-acre parcel off Glen Charlie Road presents Wareham with a unique opportunity to create new, sustainable revenue. Because it is zoned for residential use, however, the town cannot currently depend on the parcel to generate sustainable net revenues. An amendment to be considered by a special town meeting on March 13 would expand options for the site to also include commercial development.
The town meeting article presents opportunity with zero risk. It ensures that Wareham is prepared to leverage the site for economic development, but does not commit the town to any specific concept, proposal, or course of action. Nor does it curtail the rigorous process of state and local review, including robust public input, that would attend any proposed project. This will also require an off/on ramp from route 25.
As a member of your Board of Selectmen, I feel it is important to communicate to the town voters a tax-generating commercial development that would present Wareham with one way to fund its needs without increasing the tax burden on families or enacting painful budget cuts. The zoning article provides us an opportunity to shape our own future now by giving Wareham a leg up in the coming competition for tax-generating economic development in our post-pandemic economy.
Alan H. Slavin