The Town of Sandwich and MassDevelopment hosted a forum to discuss the potential development of the 23 acres at the Sandwich Marina owned by the Town. But, as Donald Powers of Union Studio went through the Power Point presentation, it became more and more apparent that there were so many hurdles to jump through that any development there would be nothing short of a miracle.

Ten minutes before the program began, and Selectman Susan James began the introductions, Powers, Stoughton Planning & Development Director Blair Haney, Assistant Town Manager Doug Lapp, and folks from Mass Development, were still frantically working on putting the finishing touches into the computer.

Haney said he was working on three potential areas of development in Sandwich--the Marina, South Sandwich (the "golden triangle"), and the Sandwich Hollows & the recreation plan associated with it. James said the Board of Selectmen were "focusing on really good economic development. We want to preserve the town, while bringing in additional revenue. One of the economic centers is the marina district."

Powers led the "community visioning process" and many of the forty residents who showed up had something to say. Probably the best prepared was Carl Johansen, who spoke about two suggestions, a Salt Water Zoo & Rehab Facility (with educational and volunteer opportunities and a fishing museum) and a high rise hotel or assisted living facility (the top floor could have panoramic views and house a restaurant).

Others suggested whale watches and fishing charters could start out of the Marina, thereby bringing tourists to local restuarants, and bring in revenue to the town. One other said, "You can't buy a pair of socks in this town. Maybe a boutique store?"

Powers said he was surprised that no one in the crowd was anti-development. "That is really unusual," he added.

But Powers, and Town Manager Bud Dunham, were quick to point out the impediments to building there. First of all, there are wetlands scattered throughout. Much of the property around the small Sandwich parcel is owned by a number of different entities. The largest parcel, owned by NRG, may be tied up with underground utilities. All the roads leading in and out are owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, as is much of the area around the Canal Visitors Center and the paths leading to Town Neck Beach.

Dunham said he has spoken to the NRG site owners about potential private-public partnerships, but that there have been six or seven owners there since he started. His preference would be that the NRG Energy Plant be repowered. "I'd liek to see a repowered power plant that is environmentally responsible, and upgraded with the latest technology. Currently, it has antiquated technology and runs only a couple of days a year. This could potentially bring in more tax money to the town than all new potential development combined."

I think any development at the Marina is a long shot. But, Powers said that his group Union Studio, which is partnering with Horsley Witten Group, Rustpoint Advisory LLC, and West Point Advisory in this $30,000 study, will consider ALL resident suggestions. If residents have a nice idea that could be utilized at the Marina property, they can send it to Blair Haney via email at

Powers said that private-public partnerships always work best, so a company that has a suggestion would also be welcome. He also pointed out that the area studied, Rt. 6A, Tupper Road, and the Marina are the "Western Gateway to Sandwich." He outlined potentials, such as housing, small retail, marine research, and recreational activities.

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The Views from Visitors Center at Cape Cod Canal



(photos by Mark Snyder, (C)2014 by PMPNetwork,Inc.)

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