Turning Harrison Avenue into a dead-end street—a way to create one large parcel for development on Main Street—was one of the ideas discussed by the board of selectmen relative to the soon-to-be-vacated Bourne Police Station.
During a workshop session Tuesday night, February 18, selectmen floated ideas for the property.
The board pondered the possibility of making the station, the parking lot adjacent the station and across Harrison Avenue, and the stretch of Harrison Avenue from Main Street to the rear property line, one big parcel available for development.
Selectman James L. Potter asked whether any development would include the parking lot located across Harrison Avenue from the police station. His fellow board members concurred that the two properties should together be part of any development deal.
Chairwoman Judith M. Froman then asked if there had ever been a situation in which a street had been taken off the town map. Ms. Froman’s suggestion was to turn Harrison Avenue into a dead end at the rear property line for the police station.
“If we’re looking at an overall development idea,” she said, “it might be more desirable not to have a street in the middle of it. It gives it a lot more flexibility.”
Mr. Potter concurred. He said that including the stretch of Harrison Avenue where it connects with Main Street to the back end of the property “would make a good-sized parcel” that would also “spark a lot of interest.”
The Bourne Planning Department measures the combined acreage of the station property, the parking lot and the stretch of Harrison Avenue at a little less than an acre.
The current police station will be vacated later this year when the police department moves into its new headquarters on Armory Road off the Route 6 & 28 Bypass Road in Buzzards Bay. That building is nearing completion.
Selectmen agreed that the current police station is not fit for reuse. The building contains a lot of asbestos, as well as black mold. Basement locker rooms flood, and windows leak. The building’s plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems are outdated and jerry-rigged.
“I like the idea of reusing buildings,” Ms. Froman said, “but there’s not a lot of beauty to that building.”
Selectman Jared P. MacDonald, a former Bourne patrolman, added that the structure may suffer from lead contamination as a result of bullets fired in an underground firing range.
“It’s got to go,” Mr. MacDonald said. “It’s not a reusable structure.”
Town Administrator Anthony E. Schiavi said that estimates on maintenance for the building show it would cost $500,000 over the next three years—and to as much as $3 million “over the long term.”
Mr. Schiavi said the board has to ask itself if the property is best used as a parking lot, given concerns over the lack of parking in downtown Buzzards Bay. He noted that the town is evaluating its parking needs in the downtown area, but did not advocate for that use of the property.
The other option, which he favors, is selling the property to a developer, given that the town is not in the development business.
“Development or redevelopment projects may be a little bit beyond our scope to do them ourselves,” he said. “It may be better suited to bring a developer in, see if anybody’s interested in purchasing.”
Selectman George G. Slade said he would opt for development of the parcel as opposed to paving it over for parking. Mr. Slade noted that the downtown area no longer has a number of businesses the area used to offer residents.
“There’s no retail bank in Buzzards Bay anymore,” he said.
He suggested that the board consult with the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce on possible “suitors” to approach about setting up shop in Buzzards Bay.
Mr. Potter said development of the police station lot would be the best solution as the town looks to increase its business presence. He said that, at present, there are empty lots where a number of buildings had once dotted Main Street.
“I could definitely see,” he said, “another building that would be useful for economic development downtown on this lot that would be really beneficial to the town.”
Mr. Potter suggested that another possibility for the parcel would be creating workforce housing. The town, he said, would have control over the cost of whatever is offered. Workforce housing is something that every community is struggling to provide, he said.
“When you actually have the opportunity to do something about that,” he said, “there may be a possibility to partner with somebody on that.”
No firm decisions were made during the workshop regarding the property. If the board chooses to move forward with pursuing turning Harrison Avenue into a dead-end street, that proposal would have to be approved by residents at a future Town Meeting.