A Strong Advocate for the Cape
Cape Cod is facing some tough challenges. Clean water is at the top of almost everyone's list. But just as important is figuring out a creative and affordable way to do it.
We also have a number of very expensive school projects in the works - with each one ready for construction around the same time. The size, timing and financial implications of this work alone is staggering - and needs more careful review and planning.
Around the Cape and Islands there is widespread support to promote smart economic development, create a community that is both "age-friendly" and "business-friendly". In each town, residents support more affordable housing options for our seniors, veterans and young families - without dramatically altering the character of our community. We need to keep up the fight on the opioid epidemic... and the list goes on. It is almost overwhelming.
While I don't have all the answers, I do know how to listen, how to build consensus, and pull people together from different segments of the community. As a former town manager, aide to two Congressmen and a teacher, I have had some practice at it.
I do know that Cape Cod is full of energy and talent. We are blessed with positive, creative leaders in virtually every segment of our community. We have all the ingredients for success. Our time is now.
Mark Forest: Background and Community Service
Mark Forest is a Yarmouth Selectman and a long time resident of South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, where he and his wife, Carol, live and have raised their family. They have two children, Michael and Patricia, who are graduates of the Dennis-Yarmouth public school system.
Mark teaches American Government and International Relations at Cape Cod Community College. During the summers, he has taught graduate level courses to future town managers and administrators at Suffolk University. Forest is also a development consultant with the Delahunt Group, working with government and other public sector organizations on the planning, permitting and funding of large public works projects. He is a consultant on the ambitious redevelopment of downtown Quincy and is assisting the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s government on a host of initiatives and projects. He also serves on the Yarmouth Conservation Trust and is the current Chairman of the Cape Cod Conservation District, which is heavily involved in fisheries and coastal restoration projects on Cape Cod.
Vision. A Good Place to Start.
The Cape's greatest resource is its people. We have a strong sense of community and we share a common set of core values – family, education, community and inclusivity.
I think it's important to find ways to involve the community in all the major decisions at the town and county level. I am a strong supporter of improved communication within the government and within the community. We need to explore ways to use social media to keep people informed of our work - especially all the positive activities that are going on. I support more educational forums on specific "hot" topics that can be held well in advance of public hearings.
So many families are struggling because of the lack of affordable housing, and the waiting list for senior housing is too long. But creating more affordability does not mean building large scale apartment projects that take away from the character of the town. Other communities are looking at options such new zoning allowing multi-generational housing, accessory apartments, co-housing, shared housing. The list goes on. As Chairman of the Board of the Housing Assistance Corp, I see new veterans and senior housing as a top priority.
Stronger Financial Planning
Cape Cod is facing a fiscal "perfect storm". We have a large number of capital projects in the works - and all headed to the taxpayers at the same time. We need to review them, find ways to bring the price tags down, and come up with an overall fiscal plan that works for the taxpayers. I also want to make sure we receive more state and federal funds to help contain the impact on taxpayers. We also need to explore more regional collaboration on services and purchasing.
COASTAL RESTORATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Our environment is our economy. The Cape's water resources are threatened - and the situation gets worse with each passing year. Virtually all our coastal eel grass habitat has now vanished. Meanwhile, our water supplies face the threat of escalating septic system waste, and newly discovered contaminants of emerging concern.
I am a strong supporter of a regional approach to solving our wastewater problems. I also strongly support looking at more innovative approaches like expanded shellfish aquaculture and innovative technologies. But at the end of the day, none of this will work without the state and federal governments being financial partners in this effort. As a community, we need to look at how we can address sea level rise, and promote more use of renewable technologies like solar energy.
The Cape's environment, its beaches, its history and cultural resources are all important assets and should play a vital role in any future economic development initiatives.
Cape Cod boasts great outdoor recreation opportunities, but it is also emerging as a cultural and heritage tourism center. I would like to work with the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups to create more small business incubator space, and develop a broadband spur off the OpenCape system. We need to work with the state on new approaches to address the blighted areas along Route 28. One major deterrent to business investment along this highway is the lack of wastewater infrastructure - yet another reason why clean water must be a priority.
I would also like to see better communication with our small businesses, and more consensus on how to resolve problems. At the same time, I also think we need to continually search for ways to ease the burden of running a business .
Our elderly population is growing and facing significant challenges of its own. Too many seniors are living alone and in isolation. Many are struggling to deal with the demands of dementia. A growing number are unable to keep up with property taxes and looking for affordable apartments or alternative living arrangements. I support making Cape Cod more "Age-Friendly". It is more than just a slogan - it's a necessity.
Contact Mark Forest. A Leader Who Listens.
Having an open conversation with you, the residents of Yarmouth, is important to keeping our community moving forward. Mark would like to hear from you, and learn more about the issues that are important to you.