Wareham Selectmen get a head start discussing Town Meeting articles

Dec 4, 2018

Selectmen got a head start discussing potential articles for Spring Town Meeting on Tuesday night, including items which voters had previously sent back for further study in October.

“The goal is to get things listed out now so we can start working on them in January,” said Selectman Alan Slavin. “That way we’re not scrambling.”

One article from Fall Town Meeting that may reappear would seek to change Wareham’s sign bylaw by changing the ways in which fees are applied to violators and where in town signs may be erected.

Voters unanimously decided to revisit this article at the recommendation of the Planning Board, which called for further study on Oct. 23. Slavin noted that as of Dec. 4, the Planning Board has still yet to review the article.

Another item which may reappear from the fall meeting would seek to amend another of Wareham’s bylaws, know as Section 530. This article would make it illegal for residents to have more than one unlicensed vehicle, boat or trailer on their property.

According to Selectman Peter Teitelbaum, this article would make the enforcement of the zoning bylaw easier for the Director of Inspectoral Services by setting hard limits.

Town Administrator Derek Sullivan noted that voters would also likely see several requests for the spending Community Preservation Act funds in the spring.

Each year, town officials and organizations request money for projects through Community Preservation Act in four categories: open space, historic preservation, affordable housing and recreation. The money is raised through a 3 percent surcharge on property tax bills.

A $75,000 request for a kayak launch at 118 Sandwich Rd. and a $225,000 request to repair the track at Wareham Middle School have both authorized by Selectmen to go before Community Preservation Committee.

Additional requests to preserve the Hammond School and the East Wareham School may also be presented, said Sullivan. The spending of these requested funds would then go before voters at Town Meeting if approved by the committee.

Another possible article touched on by Sullivan would return $800,000 intended to buy temporary classrooms at Decas Elementary School. Voters approved the borrowing of the $800,000 at Spring Town Meeting in 2017 to house displaced pre-school students in the wake of Minot Forest Elementary closing. In August, Wareham received portable classrooms from Westborough at no cost.

Other possible articles mentioned by Slavin would seek to develop the train station on Merchants Way and look into the possibility of creating of a public safety complex where emergency services in town could be housed. 

In its report to the Town Administrator, the Wareham Police Department stated that its station was inadequate after 47 years of use.

“It’s one of the most unsafe facilities I’ve ever seen,” Slavin said. “We need to do something about it.”

Slavin closed out the discussion by stating that the board would meet again on Jan. 22 to flesh out articles.