How do you motivate a community that has
been languishing for almost a half century? The question is compounded
by a prevailing skepticism over the manifold promises to address
Bourne’s Main Street/Buzzards Bay that were never delivered, for one
reason or another—mostly a lack of public resources and of community
leadership, or both, further manifested by indifference and lack concern
Members of the community have come together several times in an effort to get something done along the gateway to the Bourne Bridge and Cape Cod. They have given it their best shots, and they have accomplished some things to suggest that the area is worth saving and in a manner consistent with smart growth and the Cape Cod lifestyle and ambience. But they were still met by apathy, resistance, and lack of funds to take their efforts to the level equal to their aspirations.
After many meetings of still interested and devoted residents and businesses, a consensus was reached to restructure the various village and neighborhood groups into a Buzzards Bay and Main Street association with corporate powers and access to resources to allow it to adopt a business plan for the entire area from Veterans’ Circle to the west to Belmont Circle to the east and from the north side of the Cape Cod Canal to the north side of the Bypass Road.
Thus the creation of the Buzzards Bay Village Association, Inc., now d/b/a the Buzzards Bay Vitalization Association (BBVA). The Association's elected officers and directors reflect a broad range of community interests, talents, and experiences. A retired professional association executive was engaged to run the organization, identify the real needs, raise the funds, and implement a plan to make Main Street once again a visible and viable downtown area.
For a short while the BBVA was viewed with the same apathy and show-me attitude. To attempt to once again stimulate community-wide interest and enthusiasm, the Association conducted an international architectural design contest to offer their best thinking for landscaping and reuse of the town’s park on Main Street, considered to be the main facility for attracting visitors and merchants to the area. Over 155 well-regarded professionals submitted plans and programs including a half dozen from Middle Eastern countries. The objective was met, and a modest degree of enthusiasm took over for apathy and skepticism.
Building on this new-found public support, the BBVA sought out resources from state government, area businesses, and private foundations, and it undertook studies of critical area conflicts to rehabilitation such as transportation—a hot topic with the local merchants who saw the return of the railroad to Buzzards Bay as a positive business asset. This was yet another step in stimulating more public interest in the total task of rehabilitating the downtown area.
In addition, the Association took on the task of converting the old access road to the drawbridge over the canal into a walkway leading from Main Street and going past Town Hall. The walkway is handsomely landscaped and well lit, and it leads visitors to picnic tables and an observation area and gazebo where visitors can sit or stand and watch the canal and the many ships pass by. This effort attracted much enthusiasm, and when a call went out for volunteers to help, over 50 dedicated people came out on a Saturday morning, including some from the Garden Club, armed with gardening equipment, dump trucks and coffee and donuts. On other occasions there were volunteers from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and inmates from the Barnstable County House of Correction—under guard, of course.
This is just a profile of the BBVA’s mission and record. Much more is in the planning stage and needs to be done. The first and perhaps most difficult task was to dispel the negativism and convert it into a positive force for action in bringing back Main Street/Buzzards Bay in Bourne. A list of dramatic changes, both in attitudes and renewal along Main Street can be viewed on the BBVA Web site: BuzzardsBayVillageAssociation.org.