Historical hub, hops, hospital upgrade ahead in 2018

Jan 18, 2018

In 2018, Wareham residents will likely see the former Tremont Nail Factory slowly become a destination for some high profile events. Residents will also see a major overhaul of Tobey Hospital as the emergency department is expanded, and in the industrial park, a new “malting” business will open.

These and other projects have officials hopeful that economic development will be one of the major stories to come out of the new year. Here’s a look at some of the projects Wareham will look forward to in 2018.

Tremont Nail Factory

After sitting dormant for years, officials hope 2018 is when the historic Tremont Nail Factory complex begins living up to its economic potential.

“It’s starting to happen now,” said Director of Planning & Community Development Kenneth Buckland, referring to several events held in 2017 at the 7.2-acre site, located on Elm Street.

Starting in 1819, the site was home to the Tremont Nail Company. In 2004, the Town of Wareham bought the site using Community Preservation Act funds. The act allows participating cities and towns to adopt a real estate tax surcharge, supplemented by state matching funds in order to fund community preservation. Until recently, the property has languished, attracting few tenants and drawing ire from residents tired of using town funds to maintain eight buildings on the property.

Buckland said that will change as progress has been made in transforming the site into a destination complete with shops, event space and perhaps housing.

Officials have fielded calls from people interested in using or renting the site. Currently, a contract is being negotiated for a home furnishings event and Buckland’s office has taken calls from a diverse range of people wanting more information, including a fish farmer and owners of a micro brewery.

Strides have been made toward fixing up the property, too. Buckland applied for a grant from the state’s Cultural Facilities Fund. If awarded, it would match the $200,000 in Community Preservation funds to fix up the site. New windows, plumbing and air conditioning could be added. The money would also repair minor structural issues.

Emergency room expansion

The emergence of an expanded hospital facility will begin in 2018, with a Tobey Hospital emergency room overhaul.

Currently, a blueprint is being created for the space to figure out how it will look, said Peter Cohenno, the public information officer for Southcoast Health. Since the expansion would involve tearing down Tobey Homestead, built in 1825, filing with the town’s Historical Commission is the next step. Depending on the approval process, Cohenno said the remodel will begin this year.

Per the town’s bylaws, The Historical Commission becomes involved when an alteration or demolition is considered for any building older than 75 years old. Tobey Homestead is considered historically significant, since it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tobey Hospital’s current emergency room was built to serve 15,000 people annually, but in reality they see about 33,000 patients each year. With the expansion, the emergency room could be built to serve 40,000 people. The current emergency department is on the Main Street side of the hospital, which would remain the same. The renovation would expand the current department onto the land that currently includes the Tobey Homestead.

“This would be a modern emergency department that could meet the needs of the community,” Cohenno said.

The multi-million dollar project shows that Southcoast Health is committed to Tobey Hospital, he said.

“This project is a great example that we’re still investing in the hospital and trying to create a community hospital that provides a lot of modern services to the people of greater Wareham,” Cohenno said.

Master plan moves forward

Progress continues on the master plan, which will serve as the town’s blueprint for the future once finished.

A master plan addresses a community’s goals for land use, housing, climate change, economic development, services and facilities, transportation, open space and recreation and natural and cultural resources. Having a master plan in place means town officials can work from a shared vision for the community and makes the town eligible for certain state grants. The last time a master plan was completed for Wareham was in 1998. Buckland said a key piece of the plan will be a focus on economic development, particularly in revamping Wareham Village and Onset Village.

“Onset is a jewel and I think a small amount of assistance could go a long way,” said Buckland.

Stone Path Malt to open

This year is expected to bring craft beer flowing into Wareham, with the opening of Stone Path Malt, beginning local production of craft malt. According to co-founder Michael Schroth, residents and tourists can visit the tap room at 11 Kendrick Road this summer and sample a variety of New England craft beer made by their customers using malt.

Stone Path Malt owners Schroth and Mark St. Jean plan to invest $3.8 million in the building and equipment for the malting facility that will create 12 jobs over the next several years. Schroth said they recently began upgrades to the building to prepare to install the equipment.

A unanimous vote at the fall Town Meeting authorized the Board of Selectmen to request a year-round wine and malt license at the property and the business has also received a break on state taxes for the first five years.

Stone Path Malt plans to produce germinated grains that are dried in a process called malting.The end product is used by home and commercial brewers. The operation is expected to bring in tourists, as Massachusetts ranks fifth in the country of volume of craft beer production.

Stone Path Malt will begin by selling 12 products and later extend their range to 20 to 30 products.