If we build it, they will come? The fact that our town officials are even considering a “mini-Patriot Place” to be built here in Sandwich seems both outrageous and inappropriate for the character of our community.
My husband and I moved to Sandwich in 2011 and we love this beautiful, quaint, historical town. When I saw the front page article in the June 20 Enterprise regarding a bid from a joint development partnership to build what has been described as the “premiere destination sports complex in North America” in the 56 acres of the Golden Triangle, this gave my husband and I great pause. In the Enterprise’s July 11 edition, there is also more detail which has been reported about the project, which further causes us concern.
In the June 20 edition of the paper it was stated by the partners behind the sports complex project: “The ultimate vision is to develop a resort destination here in Sandwich, Massachusetts, that focuses on the needs of the families who are taking their vacations around their children’s sports activities.” My husband and I both feel this town is unsuited for such a lofty and misplaced project, especially in light of the fact that the demographics are changing. The declining school enrollment bears this out as do the census statistics, which say that the 60-plus population is now around 28 percent and is expected to grow to 40 percent by 2020. These figures were given to me by a town official.
Also, we feel there is a great risk of changing the personality of this beautiful little town by making it a sports destination “hot spot” for people coming to Cape Cod. We do not believe that this project will strictly affect only the southern part of Sandwich, but will also impact the historical village area, the canal area (for which is planned an “Olympic-sized swimming pool and indoor hockey rink” by the partnership in their Phase 2 plan) and possibly East Sandwich as well.
Sandwich, in my opinion, is a town where people come to 1) enjoy our beautiful beaches; 2) visit the historical sites, museums and unique shops; 3) do some antiquing; and 4) Just relax in the beauty of this special town.
Additionally, the sports complex, if successful, will generate more traffic to the already overburdened bridge ingress and egress situation. Town people trying to get to the Stop & Shop, CVS and related businesses at Cotuit and Quaker Meetinghouse Roads will also be negatively affected.
We believe that there could be a better use of this property geared more toward the residents of Sandwich, giving consideration to the town’s future needs and demographics, while providing a constant tax base if planned correctly. One idea to be considered is a 55-plus community including medical facilities, shopping, restaurants and activities to accommodate an older population.
There are also a few questions we have about the sports complex bid as well. My husband and I have spoken to a Sandwich official and we do understand the need to bring in more business to this town so we can all get a break on property taxes. Given that the power plant is coming offline, this further erodes our tax base. However, it seems like a sports complex is not the answer to generate the type of income that is needed to make a dent in all of our property taxes. Most of what has been proposed seems seasonal at best. Also, we question why this property is being considered to be sold (all 56 acres) to the joint development partnership for a small sum of just $750,000?
The other issue that is concerning is that this partnership is making a one-time, non-refundable donation to the SEIC (Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation), a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to improve the economic condition of the town. Because there are members from the SEIC on the committee to make recommendations about whether the sports complex project should be approved by the selectmen, there seems to be a conflict of interest here.
My husband and I hope that both the committee which has been set up to make a recommendation on the sports complex project, as well as the board of selectmen will not approve this project.
Kathleen K. Barrett
Popple Bottom Road