Meet Nathan Demers
MIDDLEBORO — Middleboro has experienced a lot of change in the past year, incumbent Select Board Vice Chair Nathan Demers said.
The town has hired a new town manager, fire chief, human resources director and added staffing to the Office of Economic and Development.
By earning a second term on the board, Demers hopes to help oversee and support these changes moving forward. “There’s something to be said for that continuity.’’
One major issue that has drawn statewide attention is the state mandate to enable a potential 1,500 more housing units to be constructed near the Middleboro T station. Middleboro has drawn statewide attention by refusing to comply with the mandate.
That will be a “big issue’’ for the town, he said, that “comes with its own set of challenges.’’
This mandate could have “a cascading effect.’’ Adding 1,500 units, and potentially another 500 to keep the town above its affordable housing requirements once new numbers are added in, would “overrun the school system, water and sewer and the roads’’ and could “fundamentally change the identity of our town.’’
Among his accomplishments, he cited his role on the board in helping to preserve Picone Farm, a 189-acre space that voters agreed to protect from development, as one of his major successes.
Another significant topic in town is the fate of the historic Pierce Building, located at 99 North Main St.
The issue has been a controversial one in town, with Demers playing a significant role in the discussion as the chair of the Pierce Building Reuse Committee.
The committee, tasked with reviewing options for the building, issued a report encouraging the structure’s renovation. By housing small businesses and a “multi-functional space’’ to host community meetings, events and seminars, the building could “really serve as the cultural hub of the town’’ and “help preserve the cultural identity’’ of Middleboro.
But questions have been raised about the cost to do this work, estimated at about $5 million, although Demers said “it’s too early to say what the final cost would be,’’ citing potential grants and a $1 million donation from William Decas.
“Serving as a liaison’’ in securing that donation was his biggest individual accomplishment, he said.
The ultimate decision on the building will be in the hands of Town Meeting voters, he said. He would vote against a debt exclusion, which would allow the town to add the payment of a certain debt to the mandated levy limit.
“Town Meeting will decide that,’’ he said. “Not any member of or candidate for the Select Board.’’
On the issue of strong emotions elicited by both board members and the public at many Select Board meetings, he said, “I can’t really control other people’s emotions. You can control your own. I never forget that I represent 25,000 people.’’
As the owner of a construction company, he advocates for small businesses. “If we really want to stop the tax burden on the residents, we need to be supporting small businesses and growth.’’