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Ambitious Wellfleet plan pieced together


CONTRIBUTING WRITER | Published: November 24, 2004

WELLFLEET - Faced with five different plans for the former Our Lady of Lourdes Church, selectmen last night opted for the most ambitious one.

The plan the selectmen chose includes: retaining the church itself and its lawn for use as a community center and open space; demolishing the rectory and replacing it with a new building for shops or offices; and setting aside land to sell or lease to the neighboring Cape Cod Cent Five Savings Bank, which is seeking to build a drive-through ATM.

"We put together the fifth option by taking pieces from all the others," said 335 Main Street committee member Moe Barocas.

The other plans had elements of each, such as selling a larger parcel to the bank, demolishing all the buildings or constructing affordable housing in place of the rectory. The plan does leave open affordable apartments above the commercial space.

The town purchased the parcel, including the 44-space parking lot across the street from the Catholic Church in 2001 for $800,000.

"We already have here what many towns are trying to accomplish," said Barocas, referring to Wellfleet's downtown in an age of mall development. "We can dictate in the short term what Main Street is going to look like and that is very exciting."

However, in addition to the church, that vibrant Main Street lost a pharmacy recently and many residents still lament the post office moving to Route 6 nearly 20 years ago. Some fear the downtown's only bank may also leave for the highway.

"We already had things leave the center of town so I hope we can do whatever we can to help the town get the bank drive-through," resident Bob Costa told selectmen.

Designing a plan for the site was something of a jigsaw puzzle. In addition to satisfying the bank's needs as one neighbor, 90 percent of the parcel is within a wetland buffer zone, complicating any activity on it. And, while the rectory is in bad shape, most residents favor keeping the church intact.

"It sits relatively nicely on the site and it's in relatively good shape," said Steve Cecil of the The Cecil Group, the architectural consulting firm that prepared the plans.

While the plan is ambitious, Cecil said revenue opportunities offset costs. In addition to selling or leasing to the bank, the town could enter into negotiations with small developers for the commercial space. He indicated a new building replacing the rectory also would be the better financial option.

Costs would be significantly higher to renovate the rectory," he said.

From The Cape Cod Times

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