Survey finds 33 percent of Wareham Village 'blighted'

By Meghan Neely | Jun 26, 2018
Photo by: Meghan Neely Selectmen review a survey of blighted areas in Wareham's core.

According to Community and Economic Development Authority Manager Peter Sanborn,  33 percent of the properties in Wareham's downtown match blighted guidelines put forth by state lawmakers, which could make the town eligible for state funds.

The 150 properties Sandborn referenced were discussed during Tuesday's Selectmen meeting as a part of the Wareham Slums & Blight Inventory Project. The properties range from the Tremont Nail Factory to Besse Park, including Merchants Way and Main Street. The minimum amount of blighted properties needed for assistance is 25.

Sandborn defined the blighted properties as those which appear to be deteriorated or substandard from the outside.

"It's an exterior analysis," Sanborn said. "It's all about curb appeal, or lack there of."

Selectmen voted to submit the findings to the state in hopes of receiving grants to make improvements.

"It's very important to us that we take care of Wareham," Selectman Alan Slavin said. "We want to clean up the river front especially."

Sanborn anticipates that it will take a few months to hear back from the state. In the mean time, a similar survey is taking place in Onset where 27 percent of properties are considered blighted.

"There's a lot of work going into Onset," Sanborn said. "But I expect we'll be submitting an application for them in August."




Comments (22)
Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 27, 2018 00:05

Blighted is a nice way to say it.

Posted by: yourmonkeysuncle | Jun 27, 2018 07:22

Blighted is the way it is and most likely will not change. The center of commerce has moved to the Wareham Crossing / Walmart / Rosebrook areas. The problem with "down town" is that it evolved from Rt 6 as the major (only ?) road to facilitate traffic on the S.Coast to and from the Cape. Subsequently, the buildings face the road  and not the water.Bring in the malls and related development close by and the demise is sealed. Money drives the bus - consumers spend the money. DON"T count on the town to fix this problem. They can't / won't even enforce the codes currently on the books. Junk yards everywhere, ,abandoned vehicles and trash rule the day in Wareham. Time to enforce the rules and clean house but that will not happen.

Posted by: Bluebell3333 | Jun 27, 2018 07:48

Wareham downtown is a disaster.

Bourne undertook a major downtown renovation project that involved several phases.  They started with bumpoutsa and kept goingfrom there. They added period lightin, benches, planters, incentive grants for building face-lifts, and their crowning achievement was a real show stopper, a 2 million dollar renovation to their previously seldom usedpark. They now have a beautiful playground and splashpad that is attracting hundreds everyday. Almost immediately after opening the park a renewed interest in their blighted businesses began. I see several empty stores being worked on and have heard of no less that three new restaurants are slated to  be opened soon. Granted, Bourne hasa much Morea attractive area to start with but Wareham could at least try.

I guess Wareham did try. They copied the bumpout idea but Wareham has a much narrower road which should have been left a alone.

Oh well. Wareham fails yet again

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jun 27, 2018 08:31

Several years ago (around 10 years ago I think) Wareham was awarded grants to facilitate the refurbishment of downtown facades. Unfortunately the grants were "matching grants" which required property owners to pay 50 percent of the façade refurbishment done to their buildings.

Posted by: Linda | Jun 27, 2018 14:06

Wareham's downtown was an awesome place to shop, eat and conduct business when I was younger.

#1 - take out those ridiculous bump outs.

#2 - building owners could lower the rent for new businesses to come to Main St./keeping the rent high leaves you with an empty store front.

#3 - Rte. 28 was the major hwy. bringing tourists to the cape and shopping at our gift shops (The Handy Shop, Grey Gables, Besse's Barn & a few others), motels & little tiny cottage units (The Austria Motel) and others that now are for weekly rentals and the restaurants (Family Table, Lobster Bowl).  

#4 - Never have the Main Street businesses faced the water.  Merchants Way was always there for deliveries or parking.  Only a few had back door access.  

#5 - We need a good shoe store, a good clothing store, a pharmacy, bakery, ice cream store, and card & gift shop.

Posted by: felinesmom | Jun 27, 2018 15:30

When will this survey be posted to the town website so we all can read it?

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 27, 2018 15:39

I wish this Tremont Nail to Besse's Park range could be extended a little further to the include the Greer Lumber site.  It's full of rotting buildings and rusting cranes.  History is nice and all but let's be practical.  It's disappointing that an accidental fire hasn't made the decision easier.  It sits open to the elements.  How special could it be?   That could be a beautiful spot for a waterfront attraction such as shops and a ChartRoom like restaurant with docks, etc.  Having a restaurant with attached dock would be awesome!


Oh yes...sorry but the romance is also over with the Tobey Estate.  Tobey Hospital is supposed to be razing it to expand.  Hopefully that is still happening.  That's a good idea.  Aside from it's history, it offers absolutely nothing beneficial.  The building isn't used for anything and the 20 year old facelift is looking shabby.  It's just a big wooden liability!  Pretty soon it can be added to the eyesore list of blighted properties (if it isn't already on the list and part of the 33 percent).

Posted by: SammieJfive | Jun 27, 2018 16:27

Linda, just wanted to let you know that I agree with you 75%! Don't know why those bump outs are there, and they are actually a hazard! Especially on a busy Main Street when Fire an Police NEED to get somewhere quick. There's nowhere for cars to pull over if at a dead stop!! Also, you're correct about the rent. Why would a new business even want to try when they are already behind the 8 ball just struggling to pay an outrageous amount? Crazy! I enjoyed your post, and like your ideas. Hey, we CAN dream, can't we??

Posted by: Bluebell3333 | Jun 28, 2018 08:31

Linda. This isn't 1940. The stores you are looking for like 'good' shoe and clothing stores are the old time family run businesses that don't exist anymore. They can't compete. I liked those too but think about it. Is someone going to go into a place like the old Winns Card Store and pay alot when up the road is the Paper Store. Main streets nowadays  are basically for banks and restaurants. Hardware stores, Lumber yards, five and tens and feed and grain places have gone bye bye. Now is Lowes, Tractor store, and Target.

Unless you have the luxury of living in a town that has a natural attractant like Buzzards Bay does with the canal and railroad bridge there is no hope for Main Streets.

Posted by: greycat | Jun 28, 2018 12:32

Probably not a good idea to compare downtown Wareham with Buzzards Bay.  Buz Bay was a railroad town, with a freight yard where the park is located, a fuel oil tank farm where the Fish Museum is and a rail yard that switched trains from Boston to either Falmouth or Hyannis, with a large passenger depot.  Not so in Wareham

Wareham's fate was sealed when the railroad was routed thru downtown, making the upper harbor inaccessible unless a drawbridge was built.  With the upper harbor open, downtown could have rivaled Woods Hole or even Newport, on a smaller scale.

The old Greer Lumber mess is a direct result of the town politicians messing with private property, arguing over whether an object was a boat or a motor vehicle.

How many other businesses have been driven away by government action?


Posted by: JollyRoger | Jun 28, 2018 20:53

"Wareham's fate was sealed when the railroad was routed thru downtown, making the upper harbor inaccessible unless a drawbridge was built."

Seriously?  You think downtown went to h*** in the last 30 years due to the coming of the railroad in the 1840s?  Wow.

Posted by: cranky pants | Jun 29, 2018 07:11

Don't worry, we will have brand new schools and fire stations for the tourists to visit.

Posted by: Rosebud | Jun 29, 2018 09:36

There are a few restaurants that seem to be thriving on Main St.:  Cafe Soleil, Mumma Mary's, Minerva Pizza and the mexican restaurant whose name escapes me.  This is a good start for someone who has marketing expertise.  Perhaps the owners of these businesses can meet tovgenerate some ideas.

Posted by: Linda | Jun 29, 2018 13:28

WBS, I believe the old Greer's property is privately owned.  I don't think a chart room would work there - we don't have enough room on the water to build docks and piers to accommodate large boats.  Too expensive, also.  The romance over the Tobey Homestead will always be in my heart, it will never be gone.  Too bad Tobey Hospital didn't follow the original will of the Tobey's.  It should have been used for record storage, supplies, offices and open for businesses in town.  It could have at least paid it's own taxes.  Southcoast Health has made Tobey 3rd rate - not the nurses, the system they are forced to run under.

I don't think the paper store prices are so great either - high rent at the Crossing!

Posted by: Linda | Jun 29, 2018 14:27

BB3333 -No, not 1940 but in the 60's & part of the 70's we had an active Main St..  We had a bowling alley, a theater, grocery stores, pharmacy's, men's, women's and kids clothing stores, a dept. store, shoe stores, camera & card store, florists, a Western Auto store, a real bakery, electric co., fruit & veggie store, jewelry store, insurance co.'s,, etc..  Two banks added either a new addition & parking area or a drive thru & ATM, by tearing down a drug store, ins. co., restaurant, movie theatre, men's clothing store and a shoe store.  Wareham had a pretty good size train station and my class rode to Boston on one of it's last trips - we saw the movie Windjammer.  GREYCAT, we used to take our boat under the train tracks.  Hurricane Carol tore that apart.  I think another storm (Bob) also damaged it.  Trust me, all the asphalt chunks, etc. are probably still under water.  When we would dive off the old dock at Besse Park, we saw girders, bikes, timbers, old boats so it should have been dredged, but trust me - don't dive there!

Posted by: totellthetruth | Jun 29, 2018 15:09

You must have had a pretty small boat. Linda: I think your missing something here regarding traversing the Wareham River by boat. The problem is NOT the depth of the water-Its the height of the bridge.

Posted by: Bluebell3333 | Jun 30, 2018 07:30

Linda , you're still talking 50 years ago!   Little card  stores, clothing stores, and department stores are long gone.Some f you are hoping to see them return to Wareham I doubt you will see it happen.D what you might see is and occasionalrsmall Cafe or restaurantDr that serves mainly the people working in the offices nearby and you will likely see a Drug stores return but they are now called pot shops.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jul 01, 2018 20:56

Linda, I believe you are correct.  The Greer site is private and may still be owned by  amphibious vehicle business owner.  I heard they keep up with the taxes and just let it sit and rot.  I guess I'm dreaming a bit about a Chartroom like place.  Too much needs to happen in order for that to ever become a reality.


On the Tobey Estate.  If it was in use, maintained, and being used for record storage or anything related to the hospital, I'd be fine.  It was in such poor condition prior to the late 90s facelift.  Nothing was done to the inside.  It  looked pretty for a few years.  Now it's peeling and has broken windows.  It's back to square it was in 1998. Probably worse due to rot, etc.         The massive undertaking to restore it to a modern safe usable structure would not be least not the way Southcoast Hospitals does things.  Unfortunately they're not into old wood frame buildings.

Posted by: Steve Holmes | Jul 02, 2018 09:05

Many times we would leave Atlantic Boats and take a nice ride out through Onset Bay take the turn and come into Wareham Harbor tie up to the docks and walk into town to have breakfast. I think we can accommodate 4 or 5 boats depending on size. There is potential for expanding on both sides of the river. Advertise and list it with the boating magazines and charting companies and it would attract plenty of boaters. Besse Park has tons of potential but the great eye soar needs to be dealt with. Maybe the town through some of these preservation groups could buy that property. The State I am sure with the help of Susan Gifford and having Baker in office would be more than willing to help with the funding. They funded the upgrade of the docks and offered more help if we need and wanted it. It's a diamond in the rough. Should be included in the towns future planning document.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jul 02, 2018 11:21

Steve-  I agree 100%!  Similarly we tie up at Besse's and walk over the bridge to The Narrows.  Often we do this with guests that are unfamiliar with Wareham.  Sitting there eating and overlooking our docked boat across the water is nice, it's convenient and pretty cool to be able to hop in the boat and grab food and drink right here in our town!  Then we see the eyesore to the left.  We have had many conversations about how underutilized it is down there.  Our guests have a fresh sets of eyes and they think of Wareham as the Cape. They expect the oceanfront to be the focal point.  It's intuitive that it would be.  Many aren't aware of how messed up things are here.  At least the Nantucket Lightship used to block some of it and acted as a conversation piece.  Now that it's gone, we just have industrial decay to look at.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Jul 11, 2018 05:34

Andrea is right.

Wareham should not be proud of still having 1/3 blight 10 years on. Look at that disgusting property at the corner of Main and Chapel! Wonder who owns that?! Will pot save Wareham? When the Cape starts licensing the buying public will skip over Wareham, like those good old railroad days.

Keep electing the same people and you get the same result.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Jul 11, 2018 05:35

I thought we did away with CEDA for an EDC?

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