Sandwich developer Thomas Tsakalos is hoping to move forward with plans he has for 24 acres of land along Cotuit Road, between Surf’s Up Pizza & Seafood and Today Real Estate—land he acquired after Shaw’s Supermarkets scrapped its plans to build a market there back in 2007.
Mr. Tsakalos would also like to redevelop portions of the three already existing properties that he owns inside that commercial stretch of land.
Mr. Tsakalos is the owner and developer of Heritage Park, including Heritage Theaters Inc., and the owner and developer of Canterbury Plaza and Trade Winds Plaza.
But before he can do so, he wants to build a new access road that would stretch all the way from Heritage Plaza to Quaker Meetinghouse Road, effectively linking all of Mr. Tsakalos’s properties and allowing drivers to pass through without adding to traffic on Cotuit Road or Route 130. First, however, he needs the town to grant him an easement, since approximately one-third of this interior road would be on a portion of town land.
Last week, Mr. Tsakalos’s attorney, Kevin M. Kirrane, asked selectmen to consider putting an article before Town Meeting, asking voters to approve the easement. Mr. Kirrane explained to the board that the plans for this road are comparable to plans that the town had proposed when applying for a federal Tiger grant to build such an infrastructure.
He said the road and the development that Mr. Tsakalos are proposing are in line with the town’s local comprehensive plan.
The plans for the 24-acre site call for a mixed-use development that includes an indoor sports complex along with retail, office, and residential buildings, a community center and wading pool or ice skating rink, similar to the so-called frog pond on the Boston Commons. The plans also include bike and walking paths connecting to various parts of the development and conservation lands.
Along with the interior road, Mr. Tsakalos is also proposing to build a sewer line that would stretch along his property and travel down to Jan Sebastian Drive to a location at the end of the Industrial Park, where a wastewater treatment facility would be built.
“This sewerage proposal would remove a major stumbling block for the town,” Mr. Kirrane said.
In a telephone interview this week, Scott W. Horsley, president of Horsley Witten Group, which designed the plans for the access road and sewerage line, explained that this line would be built in such a way that it could be expanded in phases for any other property owners in the area who wanted to tie into it and that includes any prospective buyers of the town-owned, 50-acre parcel in the so-called Golden Triangle. “It removes the uncertainty about how to deal with wastewater treatment in that area,” he said. Mr. Horsley went on to explain that the site identified for the wastewater treatment facility at the end of the industrial park is outside of the drinking water protection area.
Selectman James W. Pierce was ready to jump at this opportunity, while his fellow board members were not as eager.
“This proposed road is consistent with plans proposed over the last decade. It looks like a no-brainer to me. I don’t see a down side to this,” Mr. Pierce said.
But Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Frank Pannorfi was not as eager to sign off on the easement request.
“I’m convinced that some interior road is needed. What I am concerned about is granting the easement,” Mr. Pannorfi said.
He raised the question of whether building a road now may be a turnoff to prospective buyers when the town issues an RFP to sell its 50 acres inside the Golden Triangle. “Is a developer going to be better off with or without a road structure in place? Will it meet the needs of a developer or turn people away?” Mr. Pannorfi questioned.
Mr. Horsley said the infrastructure would most likely increase the value of the town’s property.
“The more certainty the better. Any developer is going to want access to Quaker Meetinghouse Road. The more certainty, the higher the price for the land,” Mr. Horsley said.
“If a successful bidder doesn’t have to construct a quarter-mile of roadway, that’s a plus and represents a substantial savings,” Mr. Kirrane added.
Selectmen Ralph A. Vitacco also expressed concerns that the road might interfere with other organizations that are located on that property, including the Sandwich Pop Warner organization as well as prospective buyers of the town’s property. “I would proceed with caution with respect to conflicting interests,” Mr. Vitacco said.
Mr. Pannorfi said he would like to give the board a little more time to consider the request before taking a vote.
“We are really overthinking this,” said Mr. Pierce.
“We are hoping to get the permitting for this done inside of a year. This is a major commitment by my client. Somebody’s got to step up to the plate and do this work and this guy is doing it,” Mr. Horsley said.
Town Manager George H. Dunham pointed out that it may not even be necessary to get voters’ approval on the easement. He said voters may have already given the board the authority to grant an easement on the property at a Town Meeting years ago. He said he would research the matter to see if there is even a necessity to bring it back to Town Meeting again.
Mr. Pannorfi said the board will vote on the matter at its next regularly scheduled business meeting on September 15.