Ultimate Cost Of Sea Camp Plans Could Top $60 Million

by Rich Eldred
The outdoor pool at the Bay property was open to residents last summer. FILE PHOTO The outdoor pool at the Bay property was open to residents last summer. FILE PHOTO

BREWSTER – The latest draft plan for the Cape Cod Sea Camp property on Route 6A could cost Brewster as much as $66 million, if the town implements it fully.

Consultants from Reed Hilderbrand unveiled the plans during a virtual meeting last Thursday as they asked 200 residents and attendees for feedback.

When the feedback is incorporated into a new plan and forum this winter, the vision will be readied for approval at town meeting next May.

Brewster bought the 55-acre Bay property and 66-acre Long Pond property for $26 million in 2021 from the Delahanty family.

Two previous forums and surveys featured 400 attendees and 2,000 responses.

“It’s exciting there’s so much interest and engagement,” Town Manager Peter Lombardi said of last week’s session.

The Bay property has been partially opened to the public, Bay property planning committee chair Amanda Bebrin noted, including First Light Beach and the outdoor community pool. The committee is now engaged in long-term planning. The design team at Reed Hilderbrand was hired in 2022, team member Elizabeth Randall added.

The plan was designed to expand opportunities for community members, increase awareness of the ecology of the properties and utilize them in a sustainable way, conserve the habitat, address affordable housing needs, acknowledge history, re-use buildings when possible, balance costs and revenue and address all age groups.

Randall said Brewster is considering a partnership with Mass. Audubon on both properties. The organization has pledged funds and would conduct nature and conservation programs at the Bay and Long Pond parcels.

The Bay property can be divided into regions: the beach and dunes, a 10-acre pond preserve with a woodland buffer, the cabin glade, the central campus, the big field visible from Route 6A and a secluded zone along Route 6A.

The plan is to restore the coastal dune and have Audubon build a nature center next to the pond preserve, which would also have new walking trails around the pond and woods.

The camps have 92 existing structures.

“Most are rustic and cannot be easily reused,” Madeleine Aronson of Reed Hilderbrand said. “The plan shows we would reuse 24, 49 buildings would be removed and we would have two new buildings: a community center and a nature center in partnership with Mass. Audubon. Some buildings would be reused as seasonal housing. They would be removed if you go for year-round housing.”

The cabin glade would be partially returned to the wild and utilized seasonally.

The central campus would be converted to a community commons with the administrative building reused. Affordable housing could go into the secluded area along Route 6A. The big field could remain open, possibly including a pollinator meadow and community gardens.

“We would reuse the administration building, boathouse, 14 cabins, the arts center and Spruce Hill house,” Aronson said. “The cabins could provide seasonal flexible uses for arts and crafts, gatherings. They’re rustic and would retain their character.”

The administration building would house town uses and classrooms. The new nature center would be built by Mass. Audubon and three cabins could house their staff.

“Protecting natural resources is essential,” Aronson noted. That includes the woodlands, dunes and pollinator meadow. Roads would be widened and parking would be rearranged and expanded. A loop road would be created.

The community center would include an administration building and outdoor pool. Pedestrian access and a possible connection to the bike trail are included. The community center could include the council on aging and recreation department.

While residents had suggested the existing dining hall, arts center and administration building could be reused, Reed Hilderbrand determined they lacked sufficient space.

“They’d [also] need to be winterized and brought up to code to be made serviceable, and some uses cannot be accommodated,” Randall said. “A new 34,000-square-foot facility would accommodate the needs.”

The other three buildings comprise about 18,000 square feet. Building a 33,400-square-foot community center along with reusing the arts center (2,560 square feet) and administration building (4,750 square feet) would fulfill multiple uses.

Overall work on the Bay Property would cost $66,330,000, including design and contracting fees.

Broken down, the new community building would cost about $24.7 million; renovating or removing 71 buildings would add about $5.6 million; site work and recreational amenities $3.8 million; site preparation and infrastructure $4.7 million; and the design and contractor fees $25.1 million. Going with a community campus with a renovated dining hall instead of a community center or council on aging would save $19.8 million.

Mass. Audubon has pledged $2 million for the Bay property. Financing for the affordable housing would be handled by a developer. Conceptual designs for the housing of 32 to 48 showed there could be 28 to 88 beds on the 10 acres next to Route 6A.

Residents had been divided on whether the Pond property should be left for conservation and recreation or partially used for housing or municipal uses. Guidance had been to conserve at least 60 percent of the property.

The draft plan would conserve 85 percent of the 66 acres, retaining 10 acres on Route 137 for affordable housing or municipal use. Mass. Audubon could do after school programming, day trips and kayaking along the Pond shore. Three buildings would be removed, eight restored and the road improved at a cost of $1.7 million.

Mass Audubon has pledged $1.5 million for the Pond property, which would include a conservation restriction.

The housing portion could host 32 to 48 units and up to 90 beds depending on whether units were separate or townhouses.

Residents can view the session and plans online at the town website and email the team at BrewsterSeaCamps@gmail.com.