Timeline lengthens for downtown elevated boardwalk

Nov 16, 2023

The Wareham Redevelopment Authority floated the idea of putting an air rights item on the Spring 2024 Town Meeting warrant, but decided the time was not yet right, in discussion at a Thursday, Nov. 16 meeting. 

Air rights allow a parcel of air to be built on separately from the parcel of land beneath it. 

The town is exploring air rights creation along the town-owned property of Merchants Way. The town could lease the air rights above Merchants Way to developers, allowing for the construction of an elevated boardwalk connecting to the rear of Main Street businesses. 

Dan Butler, the chair of the Authority, advocated for the issue to go to the Spring Town Meeting. 

Butler asked if the town was prepared for a major developer to come in looking to work with a Main Street building, if that developer required air rights. 

That would be a nice problem to have, said Town Administrator Derek Sullivan. He said he didn't think the Authority was ready to move forward with air rights as of yet. 

Select Board Chair Judith Whiteside cautioned against moving too quickly on the issue and thereby appearing to jam the idea down people's throats. "There's a lot of resistance to the idea," Whiteside said. 

The Authority agreed to wait on air rights, and focus instead on having the Planning Board approve the Urban Redevelopment Plan. This plan outlines the revitalization and climate-proofing of Main Street, and has air rights utilization as one of its elements.