Harwich Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a license agreement Monday with the South Harwich Meetinghouse on Chatham Road to allow for cultural, educational and community uses. The Friends of the Meetinghouse have been restoring the 1836 former Methodist Church for more than a decade.
Judith Ford, the Friends chairwoman, described the nonprofit group’s efforts to do the authentic historic restoration for the building that she said is on the State and National Historic District Registers.
“It’s a tremendous building now. Everything is historically preserved,” she said. She said it would be a beautiful site for weddings as well as many other community events.
The town owns the building, but as a municipal entity it can establish a legal agreement that will allow the Friends to operate and maintain the building as well as set costs for uses.
Dave Dyer, chairman of the zoning board of appeals, focused his annual report to selectmen Monday on the board’s lengthy review of Cape Cod Habitat for Humanity’s proposal for an affordable housing complex at 93 and 97 Route 28 in West Harwich.
The project for six affordable single-family homes and two to be sold at market rates on a 2 ½ -acre parcel that will include a cul-de-sac.
Dyer said there was a lot of discussion on the project during three-hour sessions at seven or eight meetings at which neighbors opposed to the project were allowed a lot of leeway to speak.
The opposition was largely because it was a Chapter 40B project, he said, “which is almost impossible to deny.” Other issues also complicated the approval, which went through on a 3-2 vote in August. Habitat was amenable to a landscaping plan to tone down the visual aspect from Route 28. Another condition of the approval was that the historic Judah Chase house on the property will have its facade restored in compliance with historic preservation restrictions.
The selectmen expressed support Monday for expansion of uses and fees at the Harwich Cultural Center. Selectman Jannell Brown, who has been a strong backer of the center, said, “There is such a great interest in the cultural center that it’s important to set parameters.”
She noted that there is interest in supporting a “Friends” group for the center.
Selectman Larry Ballantine also suggested the town move toward maximum use of the converted middle school on Sisson Road, including the auditorium and kitchen space for a possible cooking lab. He asked for more investment and a “visionary discussion” of the center.
Selectman Julie Kavanagh said she would like to look at expanding the length of leases for the rooms, which are now two years. Carolyn Carey, said she is working on a proposal for changes to some of the room fees, including those that are shared and the shop space. The portable classrooms also will be charged more.
Any changes to the center will require a public hearing before the selectmen can vote, so the proposals will be brought back.
The Saquatucket Harbor landside improvements are moving ahead with a contract for a new septic system awarded to CC Construction for $239,000 on a vote by selectmen Monday.
The system will service the new harbormaster’s office and bathrooms for the public and the maintenance garage. The septic contract does not include a possible future restaurant and boardwalk.
Town Administrator Chris Clark also reported on an estimate of $94,000 by the Department of Public Works to do the paving on the harbor’s parking lot and the adjoining Downey property. He will recommend the work be done if sufficient funds are obtained through a grant. The landside improvements were approved for a total of $3 million by Town Meeting in May.
Take a picture
The town is looking for a color photograph taken in Harwich for consideration to become the cover shot of the 2017 Harwich Annual Town Report.
The subject matter should be an identifiable Harwich site or landmark. Photos are to be submitted to the Selectmen’s Office at Town Hall, 732 Main St., no later than noon, Friday, Dec. 22, and should be clearly marked with the name, address and telephone number of the photographer and the location of the subject matter.
Photos can also be emailed to email@example.com
Visit with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Brooks Free Library, 739 Main St.
Children can sit on Santa's lap and tell him what they'd like for Christmas. This event is free.
Local singer-songwriter Catie Flynn will perform a free concert at Brooks Free Library Saturday, Dec 9, 2 to 3 p.m. The library is at 739 Main St.
Monday, Dec. 11
Board of selectmen, 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 12
Board of health, 6:30 p.m.
Planning board, 6:30 p.m.