Wareham Conservation Commission reviews plans for Onset Bathhouse reconstruction

By Matthew Bernat | Aug 01, 2018
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Buzzards Bay Coalition President Mark Rasmussen, left, and Bill Madden of GAF Engineering discuss Onset Bay Center plans with the Conservation Commission on Wednesday night.

The Buzzards Bay Coalition presented the Conservation Commission plans for a multi-million renovation of the Onset Bathhouse Wednesday night and fielded questions from residents who had concerns about the project’s impact on the beach.

The New Bedford-based Coalition, which is dedicated to restoring and protecting Buzzards Bay and its watershed, seeks to transform the historic Onset Bathhouse into a two-story recreational and educational hub offering a myriad of programs.

To date, the nonprofit has raised $3.45 million of the $5.3 million needed to demolish and rebuild the dilapidated building. Once finished, the bathhouse would allow the Coalition to offer year-round programming with two classrooms, bathrooms and a locker room. It would also provide storage for boats, kayaks and life jackets. Additional renovations carried out by the coalition have removed invasive plants from both Wickets Island and Burgess Point. A floating dock and picnic area will be added to Wickets Island later this year.

Over the past two summers, the Coalition has launched programs from Onset Beach in conjunction with the Wareham Boys & Girls and Club and the Wareham Public Schools CARE Program. The programs are for children ages 8 to 12 and include lessons on swimming, sailing, kayaking and coastal ecology.

On Wednesday, Coalition President Mark Rasmussen reviewed construction plans with the Conservation Commission.

Rasmussen and Bill Madden, an engineer with the Wareham-based GAF Engineering, said invasive species would be removed and a 16-square-foot permanent ramp installed in front of the new center for launching equipment would be part of the plans. Madden noted developers are waiting for a waiver from the state to build in the flood zone. Current regulations would force the developers to build the structure at a higher elevation than preferred, which would mar the view from those using a nearby park on the bluffs.

Lisa Morales of Onset asked that the ramp be removable for environmental reasons. She also raised concerns about the removal of vegetation.

Sandy Slavin, Conservation Commission Chair, said the board would weigh those considerations.

Madden agreed.

“We can look into that between now and the next meeting will discuss if that’s feasible,” said Madden.

The Conservation Commission continued the hearing to Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Multi-Service Center.

Comments (8)
Posted by: yourmonkeysuncle | Aug 02, 2018 06:48

Truthfully ?? The coalition Doesn't seek to "transform"the historic Onset bathhouse. They want to "destroy" the current  "historic"structure and build a NEW structure.

Meanwhile one could envision the Onset pier project to be incorporated into the coalition project to house the harbor masters office and related facility. This would free up pier space and eliminate or lessen the red tape permitting process for yet another town facility which will require yet another boat load of consultants,design blue prints,special permitting, etc, etc. = tax payers $$$ being spent irresponsibly . Has anyone looked into this ? Of course not. gotta keep those pet projects and tax payer rip offs going.


Posted by: cranky pants | Aug 02, 2018 07:31

^^^^ what he said...

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Aug 02, 2018 07:47

Please watch the video of the meeting for the complete discussion. The plans call for the removal of all plant material ie: non-invasive as well, including the soil and "root structure" of the entire bluff to be replaced with 2,700 low bush blueberries. I asked about the watering of the planting, Mrs. Slavin requested that BBC consult the Onset Water Department. BBC is seeking a waiver from Wareham of the 50' no-disturb coastal zone. Just stating facts, please watch online WCTV for the video. This hearing and these comments only address environmental concerns including sewage, and storm water run off.

Posted by: SandyKenney | Aug 04, 2018 08:05

I like the idea of bathrooms, showers and boat storage but the rest is too much. Classrooms and parking for students should be somewhere else. How high does the water get during a hurricane? There is a reason for flood designation. It's such a small area and should be used by swimmers and boaters. Also, it should not interfere with the view from the park on the hill. Maybe make a rooftop deck with a bridge to the gazebo park area.

Posted by: Rosebud | Aug 04, 2018 09:32

Classrooms on the beach?  Seriously?  And to block people’s view is just not right.  There should be minimal building of any kind on a beach with bathrooms as the exception.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 04, 2018 11:50

Rose-you are one of the regulars on here.  I enjoy your comments.  As I have said before, I have my MO on here but I try to keep peace with my fellow commenters.  Having said that, I must respectfully disagree with your comment on view.  We're you kidding or being facetious?


A view is something earned.  It is not a right. It is not a privilege.  If I busted my butt all my career and managed to afford a property on the water I would build what I legally could build.  I would plant what I could legally could plant. I would not worry about nonwaterfront that has been lucky enough to see over the property prior to my ownership.


It's all about the race to the water.  End of story.  Those on the water win the race.  Those not on the water lose.  So simple.  So similar to many things in life where working hard and entitlement collide.


If drive my old Chevy to Shaw's can I just jump in someone's brand new BMW and drive home?  No, I can't.  That's the same mentally that entitles non waterfront people to think they have rights to someone else's view.

Sorry to strongly disagree with you.

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Aug 04, 2018 22:47

Oh, WBTS, you don't understand—you're not entitled to park your old Chevy in the Shaw's parking lot.  You see, my grandparents claimed that parking spot that has been handed down to my parents and dozens of subsequent offspring.  Other oldtimers claimed all the other spots which are now the quasi-personal property of their dozens of spawn.  As a latecomer to the party, you're SOL.  Why would you be so presumptuous as to think you're entitled to the same access as us Shaw's-parking-lot aristocracy?


You're certainly welcome to find a spot across the street to admire Shaw's storefront as long as you don't insult us by actually attempting to access the store.  Sorry if the Santander/SouthCoast Health Mafia building or Rite-Aid interferes with your view of the Shaw's bottle return pavilion.  It's your own damn fault for not having staked your claim 50 years ago.

Posted by: sadie | Aug 05, 2018 09:27

Who came up with the idea to plant blueberry bushes. The skunks that live by the beach will be thrilled with the new food source. They will be inviting all of their friends to the feast. I think the mice will like it as well do mice eat fruit? Maybe they should thing about planting beach roses which would be hardy and look really nice.

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