EASTHAM — The T-Time Committee has begun homing in on its recommendations for development of the town-owned 11-acre property at 4790 Route 6, agreeing at a July 20 meeting a new community center should be built there. The idea received unanimous support from the members present.
Committee members Andrea Aldana and W. Davis Hobbs were absent from the meeting. The committee has not taken a formal vote on its recommendations.
“I think we can take that as our first recommendation,” said committee chair Karen Strauss, “that we’re going to have a community center with the council on aging and rec. dept. shared space and some discrete spaces as well.”
Committee member Scott Kerry concurred.
“I always felt like we have a large population of elderly citizens that depend on those services,” said Kerry. “They pay an exorbitant amount of our overall tax base, and if we’re going to have young kids in this town, we need to have recreation to supplement education.” He called a community center the “hallmark of the project.”
The committee also agreed to take a closer look at whether to include a swimming pool in its recreation recommendations.
“It’s a hot spot,” said committee member Steve Garran of the pool idea. “A lot of people really, really want it, and they have really good reasons, and then there’s a lot of people that really, really don’t want it.”
Committee member Jacqueline O’Rourke advocated for a pool, citing a need for year-round facilities for swimming lessons and fitness programs.
“When I look at a pool,” said O’Rourke, “I think that’s space that can get used all day by all different groups of people.”
The discussion followed the outline of a worksheet given to members, with section one about a community center and recreation, section two addressing housing, and business and economic preferences addressed in section three. The three sections of the worksheet corresponded to the three categories included in a survey on T-Time uses conducted earlier this year.
A fourth section asked members what guidance or requirements were critical to any development on the site.
“I’ve already had a few people messaging me, concerned that T-Time is only going to be a community center and pool,” select board member Jared Collins noted via Zoom. He suggested that, for the public’s benefit, the committee explain how information was being presented. While the meeting, held at town hall, was open to the public, the only audience members tuned in via Zoom.
“We’re not just looking at a community center and a pool,” said Strauss. “We’re going to be talking about housing and economic business services, we’re going to be talking about every single thing we reached out and asked in our survey and looking at all the information we collected to date across all the categories.”
The survey drew the most responses, 2,227, to its “Community Center/Recreation” section, which was listed first, with 1,834 people responding to survey’s second section, “Housing,” and 1,814 responding to the third section, “Business/Economic Uses.”
The survey results are available online at easthamttime.org.
Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe noted the committee had more sites to consider in their deliberations than just the T-Time property.
“You have a lot of elements from the survey,” said Beebe, “and now you have more spots to put those elements on, because now we have Town Center and, if you move the COA to T-Time, you have Nauset Road [the COA’s current site].”
The purchase and sale agreement for Town Center Plaza on Route 6 has been signed, inspections are scheduled in August, and the closing on the property is expected at the end of September. The $3.1 million purchase of the plaza was approved at the June 12 town meeting (the $2.8 million purchase price, plus $280,000 to cover incidental costs) after the owners offered the town the 3.5-acre parcel, which includes a five-unit, 10,381-square-foot strip mall, a 1,511-square-foot retail building, and a 672-square-foot office building.
“We have to move forward with some speed,” said Beebe. “It’s no longer, ‘If it takes 10 years to develop T-Time, it’s good.’ There’s also some big funding opportunities we are aware of, so we need to be ready to get those.”
Beebe gave the committee a deadline of Thanksgiving to have its recommendations ready for the select board.
Member Steve Garran told the Independent on July 27 that the committee would be doing more public outreach and would be looking for opportunities to get input from people 35 and under, the most underrepresented demographic in the survey.