2020 Wareham Master Plan
Decas School will soon be empty, but that doesn't mean it should be.
The Wareham Redevelopment Authority (WRA) commissioned a report from the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) on future uses for Decas. The report advocates demolishing Decas School and selling the land to a developer. The WRA voted to accept this plan at their 11/19/20 meeting.
It will cost an estimated $1 Million dollars of tax payer money to demolish Decas and get the land ready for sale to developers. We would be paying $1M to destroy a building that we very recently invested tax dollars in to put on a new roof and install a brand new boiler system in--does that make sense?
Decas School is a turn-key property. The day the school moves to its new location, our seniors can walk in and start using the facility. Decas will be an incredible upgrade from their current basement space.
Decas is in excellent condition, contrary to what you may have heard. It has been lovingly maintained by school staff for decades. A new boiler system and new roof were just installed in 2017 and asbestos was abated during that construction.
Currently, seniors are relegated to the basement of the Multi-Service Center, which is not ideal for seniors, staff, or programming (ie. luncheons, yoga & fitness, classes, coffee hours, Mahjong, etc). The current space requires seniors to navigate stairs or an elevator which could be cumbersome, dangerous or impossible during in an emergency.
We can elevate seniors from the dark basement to a light-filled single-story structure with access to a stage, gym, industrial kitchen, music room, courtyard and acres of outdoor space. In a later phase of development, some Decas classrooms can be repurposed for affordable senior housing. Decas is perfectly positioned for seniors to access groceries, shopping, and other services at Walmart, Aldi and Wareham Crossing.
Decas is also situated next to Horseshoe Mill, part of the growing Weweantic River Reserve in Wareham with woodland walking trails and beautiful river views.
The future is multi-generational! Decas School is perfectly positioned to provide services and opportunities for Wareham citizens age 1 to 100+. Countless studies have identified the mutually beneficial nature of cross-generational interactions.
Imagine the possibilities...
* dropping of your child off at a daycare housed in the front section of Decas allowing you to attend an adult education class down the hall
* seniors gardening in raised beds in the courtyard and sharing what they know as part of an after-school program
* all ages community concerts and theater productions performed on the auditorium stage
* affordable creative classes for everyone in the community like cooking, painting, yoga, etc.
* conservations of the athletic fields on the Decas grounds and intergenerational fitness opportunities
* walking trails on the Decas acreage where all ages can explore nature
The possibilities are endless.
Wareham identified the needs of seniors and more affordable senior housing as far back as it's 1998 Master Plan and yet 20+ years later, we recognized this need again in the 2020 Master Plan because we still have not achieved these goals.
The cost of new construction is prohibitive. Wareham would never be able to afford new construction of a building the size of Decas (76,000 sq. ft.)--an estimated $40 Million.
The only practical way to achieve the goals of a community / education center and more affordable senior housing is to repurpose what we have and use our current resources to benefit future generations.
The current situation at the Multiservice Center is unacceptable.