Provincetown Town Manager Outlines Upcoming Town Meeting

PROVINCETOWN – With Provincetown’s annual Town Meeting just around the corner, Town Manager Alex Morse highlighted some of the main projects coming up in the future.

The effort towards tackling affordable housing in the town is greatly limited by available buildable property and the construction of a new police station. That issue is high on the priority list. 

Ten articles on this year’s meeting warrant are dedicated to boosting housing inventory in the town, and Morse said that one of the biggest game changers will be the relocation of 30 percent of the room excise tax to go towards more housing development. 

Morse said that the AirBnB and short-term rental boom seen in recent years means that there was a lot of untapped revenue that could go towards offsetting the community impact such industries can have on local housing for year-round residents.

“Right now, that revenue goes into existing categories. None of the four are housing directly. So this article adds housing as a fifth category and they’d be getting the biggest share at 30 percent, which would be at least $1.4 million a year going towards affordable housing efforts,” said Morse.

“That’s in addition to the money we’re already spending through the general fund and the sewer fund that’s going towards accelerating housing development. We’re hopeful voters will see the importance of directing a big share of the room excise tax directly to this housing fund.”

An example of what the money would be spent on would be projects like the ongoing effort to redevelop the old VFW site into 65 units of year-round rental, community and affordable housing. 

Morse said that it’s one of the largest housing projects conducted in the town in nearly a decade.

An article for a community impact fee on short-term rentals that are professionally managed could also help produce more affordable units in the future.

Also on the warrant is the acquisition of a property at 288A Bradford Street to potentially build at least 15 housing units and up to 45, as well as create more open space. 

“As folks know, we’re not land-rich in the town and we’re really running out of land. So this is an opportunity for us to buy a private parcel before it’s bought up and we see more luxury condos going up in town. We certainly want to do what we can to seek those properties and make sure that the town is in control and resell with a deed restriction to make sure we’re meeting our seasonal and year-round housing needs,” said Morse. 

Other articles relate to hire a development consultant to consider where the town can use other municipal properties for housing, including the current community center, a vacant parcel on Creek Road and the old fire station Firehouse #2.

The other major project focus for Morse has been the creation of a new police station for the town, which currently makes use of a building originally designed as a funeral home. 

If successful, the new station could free up the previous building to also be utilized for affordable housing.

Outreach efforts continue for the new police station, including the creation of a website where residents can learn more about the project and make their voices heard here

Morse said that COVID and the shift towards remote work has brought more year-round residents to Provincetown, emphasizing the need for investments in infrastructure for housing and services like the police station.

“It’s a police department that I think is above many in terms of community policing and developing relationships with the community. It’s hats off to all of our officers, our police chief, and our select board for setting that tone and it’s time we had a building that our community deserves.” 

Provincetown’s Annual Town Meeting will be held April 4. The full warrant can be found online here.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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