Solutions Remain a Work in Progress

            With so much to consider from every corner of the community, the Mattapoisett Master Plan Committee, a body of some 20 volunteers, has discussed a wide variety of topics since the beginning of the year. From the needs of senior citizens to the needs of school-age children, from street improvement projects to climate resiliency issues, from the future of municipal buildings to playgrounds and recreational opportunities and the use and care of coastal assets; simply put, it is a great deal to consider.

            But, moreover, once the committee has completed its work, how do identified wants and needs get funded and shepherded to reality? That was the big question asked during the group’s July 9 meeting.

            About midway through the hour-long meeting, member Yamin Flefeh asked the most compelling question set before any municipal committee: “Where does the money come from for all these good ideas … this never-ending wish list?”

            Planning Board Administrator Mike Gagne responded, saying that a list of wants and needs would have to be prioritized and presented to the Select Board and the Finance Committee. But who or what entity would have ownership for completion of projects identified in a Master Plan fell into a gray area. Gagne suggested that it could possibly be the role of the Planning Board to bring the Master Plan document from the shelf to the conference table in an annual effort to use the document to its fullest potential.

            Member Nathan Ketchel, who is also on the Planning Board, asked, “Should we bring it up with Capital Planning, should we invite them to attend our September meeting?”

            Member Bob Bergman, who also sits on the Capital Planning Committee, said that in its research the CPC found there were projects and areas in the community that seemed to have no oversight from any municipal entity. “Some things are not governed by anyone at Town Hall,” said Bergman, who went on to say that the CPC is trying to identify and tie down such matters in order to present more comprehensive information to taxpayers. He also expressed caution, saying, “But there are limitations to funding, so prioritization has to happen.”

            Some of the ideas floated out by the committee on this night included construction of a playground at the Holy Ghost grounds, a town-owned property that this group and the Recreation Department have identified as underutilized, along with an outdoor stage for live performances and events, and a possible repurposing of the soon-to-be-decommissioned fire station.

            Master Plan Committee and Planning Board member Janice Robbins thought that exploration of “the good things we already have” would be beneficial, and that a new cultural committee might take charge of such matters.

            Committee member Carole Clifford said that the town does have a Cultural Council funded in part by the state and the town whose role is to evaluate grant applications and distribute the funds based on their direct or close impact on the community. She also pointed out that different groups such as the Mattapoisett Land Trust and Mattapoisett Museum are actively coordinating programing in joint ventures.

            The lack of public access to stretches of coastline was once again discussed with no resolution. And, once again, the repairs and improvements needed on several of the town’s cherished wharves were noted.

            Sandy Hering of the Tree Committee brought up the possibility of community gardens with Clifford suggesting the Holy Ghost grounds as a worthy location to consider.

            Many potential projects were discussed, but the burning question of how to complete even one remained open as the committee adjourned.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Master Plan is scheduled for Wednesday, August 4, at 7:00 pm.

Mattapoisett Master Plan Committee

By Marilou Newell

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