Dog park, affordable housing, Town Hall roof funds get OK at Town Meeting

Oct 24, 2017

Man's best friends are closer to having their own space to play after a vote at Town Meeting authorized a $20,000 grant to help fund a new dog park in Wareham.

The grant, passed by a majority at Monday's Town Meeting, will come from the Community Preservation Open Space Reserve and be given to the Wareham Department of Natural Resources for the dog park on town-owned property.

Each year, the Community Preservation Committee allocates money to projects through the Community Preservation Act in four categories: open space, historic preservation, affordable housing and recreation. The money is raised through a surcharge on property tax bills. The state then matches a percentage of the town-raised money. Funds must be approved at Town Meeting.

The Dog Park Study Committee was formed after the Spring 2016 Town Meeting. The group has found a property off Maple Springs Road that is 1 acre and has parking. Maintenance for the dog park will be done by the Dog Park Affiliation of Wareham (DPAW).

“A dog park will provide a safe, controlled space for dogs to run that is not a beach, playground or cemetery,” said Town Administrator Derek Sullivan.

Dog Park Study Committee member Trenton Blanchard said the process has been “several years of an uphill battle” but thanked those who have been supportive along the way.

The $20,000 will cover 10 percent of the cost of the dog park and could make it easier for organizers to get a grant from The Stanton Foundation for the remaining $180,000 needed to make the dog park. The foundation has given large grants to other towns on Cape Cod and the South Coast for dog parks.

A dog park will provide a safe space for dog owners to socialize their pets and socialize with each other, said Wareham Finance Committee Vice Chairman David Heard.

“It’s nice to see that community members can get together and accomplish something in our town,” Heard said.

DPAW has already submitted its grant application to the Stanton Foundation. This year, the foundation will provide three grants and Wareham is one of four applicants.

Affordable housing project

A new affordable housing project can begin in Wareham after the town voted to give $100,000 to Latham Centers from the Community Preservation Affordable Housing Reserve Fund.

This money will be used to build a four-bedroom home at 165 Great Neck Road.

Latham Centers provides housing and services to low-income people with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic disorder. The house will be completely handicap-accessible and will “allow residents to age in place,” Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said.

Latham Centers President Anne McManus spoke at the meeting, asking voters to approve the request.

“We are a leader in the treatment of a very rare genetic disorder,” McManus said. “Before programs like ours, people [with Prader-Willi Syndrome] would die in their late teens or early 20s.”

Latham Centers has run a home in Wareham for five years “very successfully,” she said.

“We work really hard to be good neighbors and community partners,” McManus said.

The job will not be cheap, however. The house can only be one floor and many special features will be required to allow the house to be handicap accessible. But, McManus said, it will provide jobs for the community and employ area tradesmen. The residents of the house will also shop in Wareham and use Wareham service providers, as will their families.

Town Hall Auditorium roof replacement

Voters also unanimously approved giving a grant of $120,000 to the Wareham Municipal Maintenance Department. This money will go to replacing the rubber roof over the Town Hall Auditorium.

Funds have already been provided to fix the slate portion of the roof.

“Probably one of the saddest events was when we had a meeting in the auditorium and they stopped it because a large chunk of plaster fell down during the meeting,” said Town Administrator Derek Sullivan, recommending the article.