Opinion: Revitalize downtown, vote yes on rezoning

Apr 17, 2023

April 17, 2023

To the Editor:

I am writing to urge Wareham residents who want to improve our Town to show up and vote for change at Town Meeting on Monday April 24th, 7pm at Wareham Elementary School.

I urge our citizens to vote “Yes” on article S15 to create a reinvestment subdistrict in Wareham Village and revitalize our downtown.

Our Wareham Redevelopment Authority and Town planners have been working for several years to devise ways to improve Wareham.  Most recently, our planning priority has been Wareham Village.

Wareham Village is a true “diamond in the rough.”  Historic,straddling a vital regional thoroughfare, it has tremendous, unrealized potential.  We enjoy something most Massachusetts communities only dream of and envy — natural waterfront and estuary that flows to and from our beautiful bay and ocean.

And yet, we’ve somehow managed to hide that beautiful community waterfront behind a dumpster-dominated, trash-strewn, overgrown, graffiti’d, Town-owned Merchants Way and a Main Street that features too many dilapidated, derelict buildings, empty storefronts, and a true “mish-mash” of various architectural facades that defy characterization.  Calling it an inviting, vibrant, lovely, classic New England town center would be a reach.

Fixing this situation is long overdue.  I volunteered to serve on our Town’s Redevelopment Authority because I believed we could do better.  We can fix this situation.

Doing nothing would be a decision; but, continuing to donothing to address the situation, and expecting it to magically improve, is a bad decision, a mistake.  The Wareham Redevelopment Authority, in close collaboration with Wareham’s professional urban planners, and our Town’s Planning Board, has built upon several years of careful study and analysis of our downtown.

We have drafted an urban renewal plan for Wareham Village designed to invite new private investment, improve and revitalize our downtown over the next several decades, showcase and take full advantage of our beautiful waterfront, spruce up downtown — Merchants Way, especially improve small business prosperity in the Village, and make our downtown a true destination where Wareham citizens and visitors will want to live, work, and play.

Inviting and encouraging private investment is key to our strategy.  An alternative spending Town funds to revitalize our downtownis a non-starter.  Diverting resources and raising taxes on Wareham residents to do something market forces can and should accomplish instead would be a mistake.

We could be accused of admiring this problem and studying this situation to death.  I would be inclined to agree with those accusers.  The time to act is now.  Really, it’s overdue.  Vote “Yes” on article S15 to revitalize Wareham Village.

Dan Butler

Citizen-at-Large and Chairman

Wareham Redevelopment Authority