Man with a plan: Wareham's newest director looks ahead

Dec 9, 2016

One word comes to mind when the town’s Director of Planning & Community Development thinks about Wareham – potential.

“That’s the reason why I was interested in this job,” said Kenneth Buckland.

Hired in April as the town’s part-time Town Planner, Buckland accepted the newly-created position, which combines the duties of planning director and community and economic director, in November.

Town Administrator Derek Sullivan unveiled plans for the job earlier this year. It’s designed to streamline how officials plan for the future as Buckland answers directly to Sullivan. For his part, Buckland oversees the Community Economic Development Authority as well as the Conservation, Inspectional Services, Planning and Zoning Departments.

“It isn’t something that one person can do all on their own,” said Buckland about the job. “They need a good team to come along…I think we have some good people in Town Hall, some great people actually.”

He has more than 35 years of experience as an environmental and urban planner having worked in the public and private sectors.

A previous project – Wareham Village's redevelopment – first brought Buckland to town in 2003.

Buckland helped develop plans for downtown that were used to revamp the streetscape, including changes to parking, traffic patterns and infrastructure.

“On Merchant’s Way we had to think about how to organize parking with an eye towards what might be coming,” said Buckland. “In particular, how to set it up for a potential train stop.”

At that time, Buckland said it appeared Wareham – with its lively beachfront and proximity to Cape Cod – was primed for a revival. However, key elements were missing.

“I found there was opportunity waiting, but it seemed the town wasn't fully prepared,” said Buckland. “Now, the town is in a much better position financially and the way it’s being run bodes well for the future.”

Buckland started his career as an environmental scientist putting his master's degree in marine biology to work in the waters of Long Island Sound. After seeing that changes in the water were likely caused by land use issues related to fertilizer, runoff and pollution, he turned his focus to planning.

He has served as city planner in New Haven, Connecticut and Stamford, Connecticut as well as town planner in Falmouth, where he currently lives.

Buckland joined a private architecture firm for many years before returning to public service.

Looking ahead, Buckland said he’s focused getting a new master plan drafted with input from residents and officials.

“There’s a lot of time that will be necessary to develop a consensus and find out what direction residents want the town to take,” he said.

Wareham’s master plan was last updated in 1998. The document serves as the community's blueprint, guiding regulatory changes, land use policies, budgeting decisions and other community-wide decisions.

“You want a balance,” he said. “Economic development is important…but we also have this other part that considers open space and several other areas.”

According to Buckland, a town's best bet against an uncertain future is a proper plan.