Selectmen to discuss acquiring Little Harbor Country Club
Months after a deal with Mass Audubon fell through, the Little Harbor Country Club seems to have a new buyer: The town of Wareham.
The matter is up for discussion and a vote at the Tuesday, Jan. 13, Select Board meeting after being on the agenda for closed executive sessions for months. Also on that agenda is a proposed Feb. 22 Special Town Meeting, which an official said is connected to the Little Harbor matter.
In April 2021, Mass Audubon and the Wareham Land Trust requested support from the town to apply for a grant that would support the restoration of the golf course to its natural state of salt marsh and forest. The planned restoration was designed to help make the coastline more resilient against climate change and rising sea levels.
The Select Board voted against partnering with the organizations in part due to concerns that the involvement of state funds would mean that the town could no longer restrict access to Little Harbor beach to Wareham residents only.
In July, the Mass Audubon Society approached the Community Preservation Committee to apply for funds to help with the project. Once again, the project was met with skepticism from officials in attendance — although the committee approved allowing the request to go forward for voter approval.
In August, however, those plans came to a halt as the organization withdrew from the deal.
“When we began the purchase discussions, it was against a backdrop of research suggesting that golf as a sport was on the decline and had been for some time,” Mass Audubon said in a statement. “Mass Audubon prides itself in practicing conservation at the local level — implementing projects that yield a broad array of timely and well-received benefits to the host community. Due to the stronger-than-realized support for continued golf on this site — including by those in town government — our conservation vision came into question, and even became the target of unfounded public criticism from some quarters.”
Before the discussions with Mass Audubon, the owners of the Little Harbor Country Club tried unsuccessfully to find a buyer who wanted to maintain the operation of the club.
According to the Wareham Assessor’s Database, the land is classified under the state’s Chapter 61B — meaning that it is restricted to recreational uses in exchange for tax benefits. If the usage of the land changes to something non-recreational, the owner would be responsible for some amount of back taxes.