Sandwich Selectmen, Council on Aging Spar Over Old Bank Building


SANDWICH – A debate continues in Sandwich over the use of an old bank building that town officials are looking to purchase.

Selectmen and town administration would like to convert the former Santander Bank building at Route 6A and Tupper road into consolidated town offices.

The chair of the Council on Aging’s Board of Directors Neal O’Brien recently asked Selectmen to reconsider its proposal and to purchase the bank building for a new Center for Active Living.

“We are looking to be practical and save the Sandwich taxpayers potentially several million dollars,” O’Brien said.

He cited data from the town’s 2017 census that indicates 47 percent of town residents will be over the age of 55 by 2025. That number is expected to increase to 50 percent by 2027.

O’Brien said the town’s senior population is totally underserved by the current senior center.

He read several published pieces written over the last 15 years which called for a new senior center and a lack of urgency from town officials.

O’Brien said tax bills have increased significantly over the last several years with projects that public safety upgrades, beach nourishment, road improvements, and wastewater mitigation.

Selectmen Chair David Sampson said for the town’s tax equation to change business needs to be done differently.

“That’s why the Santander Bank project has come about,” Sampson said.

“There’s many opportunities for efficiency that we cannot realize without getting all of our town personnel into one building.”

Sampson said the town’s operating model suffers from cost duplication, employees traveling between offices, vehicle expenses, personnel redundancy and a management model that does not allow the Town Manager to fully oversee day-to-day operations.

“In addition to that, the existing Town Hall Annex as well as the Jan Sebastian Drive building both require significant investment if we are going to maintain those building over time,” Sampson said.

“Their’s is a number of different cost equations in play here regarding how we can cut up this puzzle and they all need to be recognized as part of what we are facing.”

In the past Sampson said he was more in favor of an intergenerational community center that would serve the entire community.

“From my perspective, I’m looking to do things that are as inclusive as possible to all of the residents of our town,” he said.

He said he appreciates that the Council on Aging is making an effort to pursue a new building.

“I personally have no opposition to providing a new facility for seniors,” Sampson said.

Plans to approve the property acquisition must be approved by voters at Town Meeting.

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