For Bourne Board of Selectmen member Stephen F. Mealy, the time has come for the town to stop talking about solving its wastewater issues, and solidly commit to doing something. If the town does not take action, “we can no longer go forward with any development in the Town of Bourne and particularly in the village of Buzzards Bay,” Mr. Mealy said.
Mr. Mealy made his comments in his role as sewer commissioner during the July 8 commission meeting. The commission met with the team behind the large, mixed-use development proposed for 25 Perry Avenue, in between Main Street and the Cape Cod Canal, in Buzzards Bay.
The finished project would include a hotel and conference center and a “destination restaurant.” The complex, to be constructed in three phases on 15 acres fronting the canal, would sit adjacent to Keystone Place, the senior assisted-living development now under construction behind the Buzzards Bay Post Office.
To get their project up and running, the developers of 25 Perry Avenue have asked the town to allow them to pump up to 30,000 gallon of wastewater per day into the sewage lines that serve the village. These lines carry wastewater from the village to the Wareham treatment facility. This allowance would be for just the first phase of the project—which would be 144 residential units and a restaurant.
But because the town is strictly limited to how much wastewater it can feed into the system, commission members said, the town does not have that much capacity to give to the project. But Mr. Mealy encouraged his fellow board members to investigate the matter further.
Mr. Mealy said it is time for town officials to “get off their hands” with regard to finding a solution to the town’s wastewater problem, which continues to impede business growth in downtown Buzzards Bay.
He pointed out that the town has spent years and many thousands of dollars on wastewater studies. He mentioned seven different studies that have been commissioned by various town boards and agencies over the past decade, all related to wastewater treatment and how to spur business growth in Buzzards Bay.
In addition, a Wastewater Advisory Committee was established in 2007, and at Town Meeting in May 2011 residents approved the creation of a Growth Incentive Zone.
Numerous funding options that have worked in other communities have been explored, including a possible public-private partnership on a wastewater treatment plant.
Bourne, however, “has stopped short of addressing the issue now at our doorstep,” he said.
“We are on the brink of our limit of our options,” he said.
Bourne’s agreement with Wareham allows the town to send 200,000 gallons per day to a treatment plant there. Of that allotment, the town averages 73,000 gallons, the Hideaway Village neighborhood is allocated 60,000 gallons, another 23,000 gallons have been set aside for Keystone Place, and 20,000 gallons are allocated to currently vacant buildings. That leaves 24,000 available gallons, less than the project group’s 30,000 gallon request.
Town engineer Michael Leitzel, standing in for plumbing and gas inspector George W. Tribou, told the commission that Mr. Tribou’s estimation for the total daily capacity needed for the proposed project’s first phase is actually 46,000 gallons.
Ryan K. Correia, co-owner of Allied Ventures LLC, and owner of the land on which the project will be built, said that getting Phase One up and running would create revenue through sales and rentals. The revenue would then allow the group to consider entering into a possible partnership with the town on a wastewater treatment facility that would take care of the needs of the complex’s two other phases, as well as other new businesses.
Commission chairman Linda M. Zuern said that along with wastewater disposal, maintaining a sufficient water supply for the development’s residential units and restaurant could pose additional problems. Ms. Zuern said that the project could be hampered by the Buzzards Bay Water District not being able to supply it with enough water.
“There is no wastewater without water first,” she said.
Ms. Zuern said she had heard that officials with the Buzzards Bay Water District have been telling the residents it services to use less water.
Mr. Correia said he had met with representatives from the water district and they did not indicate any water shortage.
Commission member Donald E. (Jerry) Ellis affirmed Ms. Zuern’s assertion that the Buzzards Bay Water District cannot presently accommodate the water needs of the proposed complex. He said that in talks with members of the water district, he was told that a new well would have to be dug at a cost of roughly $1 million.
The meeting took a testy turn when Christopher E. Bailey, a senior broker and consultant with Commercial Realty Advisors in Hyannis, questioned whether the town was sincere in wanting to partner with the Perry Avenue group. Mr. Bailey said that, in addition to this complex, the group has ideas for complementary uses on other properties in
Buzzards Bay that would spur business growth. However, before a lot of money is spent on design and architectural fees, he wanted to know if the town wants to work with them.
“We’re in a position to do a really great thing with you, and if you don’t want that, we’re going to develop the property in a different way,” he said, suggesting that the land could be developed into a 40B affordable housing condominium complex.
Mr. Ellis cautioned Mr. Bailey against making veiled threats. Mr. Ellis said that it would not be in the group’s best interest to put up an affordable housing complex instead. He said it would be in the group’s best interest to work with the commissioners so they can get the allocations correct, without threatening the board.
“I’ve heard that so many times that after a while you become immune to that,” he said.
Mr. Correia suggested that the project’s construction schedule could be altered so that Phase Two, the hotel-conference center, would be built first. He said that the wastewater allocation request for Phase Two would be substantially less, roughly 10,000 gallons a day.
Mr. Mealy made a motion that town administrator Thomas M. Guerino and his staff investigate a possible reduction in the wastewater allocation to Hideaway Village that could be returned to the town’s general allocation to accommodate the Perry Avenue project. That motion was approved unanimously .
Mr. Mealy also suggested that, rather than alter their construction schedule, the group come before the commissioners at their next meeting to learn what has been determined by Mr. Guerino’s investigation. The sewer commissioners’ next meeting is scheduled for August 5.