An effort began in 2006 to create an independent town agency that would work toward expanding our tax base, creating jobs and services for Sandwich residents. A Selectmen’s Task Force worked for two years with town fathers, private individuals, and legal counsel to submit legislation to Town Meeting for submission to the General Court and Governor for approval, finally received in 2010. The original board of directors was appointed and legal operation of the corporation commenced, following the guidance of town counsel.
Twenty-nine individuals have served on the SEIC board, including representatives from board of selectmen and chamber of commerce.
The SEIC developed a comprehensive strategy based on the Local Comprehensive Plan that included development areas with projected jobs, tax benefits, and costs based on the administration’s priorities. This document has guided SEIC activities over the past nine years.
The first event the SEIC organized was a symposium on Public Private Partnerships held in our town hall with 200 attendees, representing both public and private interests. The event was sponsored by Stonehill College, and the president of the National Private Public Private Council joined a panel, moderated by then-Senate President Therese Murray.
The SEIC began work with the Town on a Request for Proposals (RFP) for South Sandwich Village Center. The town appropriated $50,000 for SEIC to develop the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the town and assist with the writing of the RFP. The MOU was signed for the South Sandwich Village and the SEIC hired a consulting firm and attorney to assist with the development of the RFP. The SEIC members and consultant worked closely with the town. Unfortunately, it did not result in a development contract with Tsakalos Realty Trust. The consultant and attorney had agreed they would not receive any payment over the $50,000 if the contract was not finalized, and as a result there is no outstanding liability for the town. This project would have realized potential annual tax revenue for the town of $1,517,334 and 500 jobs. Other than this project, little if any town funds and resources were used for the SEIC.
The SEIC targeted its efforts on private land development and contacted Costco to see if the company was interested in coming to Sandwich after a previous failure. Costco wanted 20 acres of privately owned industrial land off Route 130. Costco brought in New England Development, which proposed a one-million-square-foot development including Costco. Sandwich leadership did not want to compete with Mashpee and Hyannis, and requested a proposal for small companies with some commercial businesses. In the interim, New England Development attempted to purchase land for access to the property while the SEIC prepared a Mass Works Grant for the roadway access ($5 million). Agreement for a sale of the property could not be reached. This project would have realized potential annual tax revenue for the Town of $3,317,888 and over 1,000 jobs.
The SEIC then turned to the marina, as recommended by the town manager, and secured a Mass Development Grant to study for the Sandwich Marina area, which included the town’s 23 acres, NRG’s 40 acres, as well as privately owned land. The town matched the grant amount and completed an environmental impact study for the town-owned land. The study was completed by Union Studios and is in Town Hall for review.
Next came the sports complex developers looking for private land to develop fields for tournaments on Cape Cod. Again, this opportunity was started by the SEIC. The town issued another RFP and selected this group. The developers attended SEIC meetings for two years and the SEIC supported them at the Cape Cod Commission, Town Meeting, and in meetings with neighborhood groups. They proposed a hotel, major indoor athletic facility and four baseball fields. Because of internal issues with the development group negotiations ended.
The SEIC helped organize the celebration for the 100th anniversary of the Cape Cod Canal with Captain’s John Boats, 350 guests, dinners provided by the Pilot House and Dan’l Webster, ending with a fireworks display on the Canal. This event was the first of its kind in the town’s history and demonstrated what a great asset our harbor is for tourism and commercial opportunities. Recently the SEIC coordinated another event at the marina, offering a daytime round trip to and from Provincetown to raise money with the Sandwich American Legion. This project was rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The SEIC then began to research all wastewater options. The SEIC’s work to solve this problem has included coordinating tours at the Easton and Chatham wastewater facilities, meeting with engineers, developers, water experts, researching funding options including a meeting with Congressman Keating’s staff to explore federal funding options. All of the options were presented and shared with the town. The SEIC president served on the Water Quality Advisory Board.
In addition to these large projects, the SEIC obtained a $1,700 grant from the Sandwich Visitors Board for new Town Crier boards, and a $20,000 grant for the Sandwich Arts Alliance with the help of Representative Hunt and Joanne Westerhouse.
The SEIC supported the RESET provision by the Cape Cod Commission increasing “building by right” in industrial zoned areas from 10,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet for certain industries, the Water Infrastructure Investment Fund, the late Bill Burbank’s project for Brady’s Island, Overlay District for the Wing School, sent letters to all businesses on Jan Sebastian Drive to encourage support of the WIIF, and developed a strategy for Route 130 with town planner and MassDevelopment. The SEIC treasurer is a member of the evaluation committee for the development of the Wing School.
Sandwich has the highest tax rate on the Cape. We all know this. Assuming that Sandwich would still like to increase the tax base through economic development, it continues to be critically important that the town fathers create a permanent organization dedicated to economic development in Sandwich while preserving our historic character and reducing the tax burden on our citizens.