Swansea, Massachusetts – Bristol County

August 30, 2023
Swansea, Massachusetts - Bristol County

Swansea, Massachusetts

embracing growth while preserving charm


Combining a rich heritage with contemporary living, Swansea, Massachusetts focuses on growth, community engagement, and preservation.

Nestled in the southeastern corner of Massachusetts, Swansea is a picturesque town that seamlessly blends a 350-year heritage with modern suburban living. From its humble beginnings as an agricultural community to its present-day status as a thriving town, Swansea has evolved into a charming and vibrant place that attracts both nature enthusiasts and those seeking a close-knit community atmosphere, truly capturing the essence of New England living.

Fostering Growth, Engaging the Community, and Enhancing Recreation

As Swansea embraces growth in all areas, Town Administrator Mallory Aronstein says town leaders are working diligently to ensure housing, infrastructure, and quality of life opportunities for all.

She describes, “After my appointment in November 2020, I have integrated myself in the community and figured out what was outstanding, things that needed to get done, long-awaited items, to-do list items, and just got to work.”

She suggests that having a great relationship with state delegation is key, adding, “They support us in all of our endeavors. They care about economic development and community building and how to make their district, or my community, one of the greatest places to live on the south coast.”

Swansea takes pride in having its beach, a feature uncommon for towns outside of Cape Cod. The town collaborated with the state a few years ago for a $1 million renovation, and they are still expanding on it today. A sail shade is being added to offer a shaded area for socializing, picnicking, and relaxation.

Swansea is also rich in recreational spaces, providing residents with plenty of opportunities to stay active. “We have a large park that has baseball fields and a playground that we’re rebuilding almost in its entirety right now. So that’s a fun project,” says Aronstein.

There are also plans to transform the 22-acre Medeiros Farm, which the town acquired, into a recreational space with a primary focus on soccer. To ensure the development of these projects meets the community’s needs, she stresses that public engagement and community input are highly valued.

Swansea, Massachusetts - Bristol County

Supporting Growth and Development

As a Complete Streets community, Swansea has prioritized transportation projects, including the redevelopment of Route 118, Swansea Mall Drive, a main commercial thoroughfare which was the previous location of a mall that was closed in 2019. “It’s a big economic black eye in that sense, and the town quickly got to work in 2019 establishing a Redevelopment Authority that would help remove some easements and restrictions on the deed to help for better commercial activity there,” Aronstein relays.

The mall property itself has been purchased by Brady Sullivan Developments who are giving it a full renovation and welcoming enterprises such as Crunch Fitness, storage solution providers, and a local church. “We would like to see some more development there and be host to these new companies looking for a home. Swansea wants to be that home,” she conveys.

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Economic Development Authority, Swansea can offer the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program, which supports businesses in expanding or renovating, through the provision of capital and support, allowing companies to embrace clean energy solutions.

“It’s not a traditional bank loan, it’s much more business-friendly and allows for some flexibility of capital, which everybody could use,” Aronstein maintains. “It’s a great program and has a really low impact on the municipality. We’re not involved in collections. We don’t have to worry about any of that. It’s just an option that signifies that Swansea is open for business, and we certainly are.”

The town has also entered into a tax increment financing agreement with the local entity Isabellenhuette USA which has been part of the community for many years and was considering expansion.

Aronstein elaborates, “They wanted to see which tax incentives could be given to them, and we entered into this agreement that opened the doors for further incentives at the state and federal level, which is really where the savings is. By doing so Swansea can retain this business and have some localized jobs with benchmarks governed and overseen by the state. So again, low impact to the town, but yielding some big dividends.”

Swansea, Massachusetts - Bristol County

Diversifying Housing Options, Addressing Infrastructure Challenges, and Attracting Businesses

On the subject of housing, Aronstein admits, “That’s a big problem that we’re seeing statewide. Swansea is no different.” With an effort to diversify, the municipality is focused on workforce housing, as well as options for the aging population. As part of the mall property redevelopment, the community is excited about the upcoming lifestyle complex, which will feature apartment buildings catering to those seeking a low-maintenance lifestyle.

New subdivisions with traditional single-family homes have also been developed in recent years, although Aronstein notes that these are not at a price point that is attainable for everyone. “We are looking at bylaws to make it easier for multi-family or in-law construction. Somebody can move into their son’s or daughter’s house but still have some privacy and not be on their own,” she says. Efforts are also being made to collaborate with the regional transit authority to encourage more frequent routes in areas such as Oakwood Estates, a 55+ community.

Swansea is actively addressing infrastructure challenges, particularly the absence of a sewer system and heavy reliance on septic systems which is common in Massachusetts’ South Coast region.

To tackle this issue, the town has entered into an inter-municipal agreement with neighboring Somerset, establishing a Sewer Commission, and utilizing funds from the American Rescue Plan to initiate the design process for a sewer system. The aim is to attract businesses to the area, while also recognizing the value of preserving local, independent establishments. “Mom and pops are the best,” says Aronstein.

“We have a lot of chains here, and that’s not a terrible thing, but we need the local flavor, the little panache that makes Swansea Swansea. It’s really difficult to run these businesses without septic, so we are trying to give that amenity just to make it a little bit easier.”

Additionally, Swansea has obtained funding to reassess the utilization of major thoroughfares, Route 6, Route 118, and Route 103, optimizing these areas for the benefit of the community and promoting economic development. The town has also established a technical review committee made up of town employees of various positions to meet with businesses who are planning to locate or expand in Swansea, helping them to navigate regulations and be prepared for potential challenges.

Aronstein portrays, “Massachusetts specifically loses a lot of business because there are so many regulations. The technical review committee helps the business get much more information early on so that there are no surprises after they’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in site development. We want them to see us as a partner. Yes, we have rules and regulations to follow, but we will help them navigate that and tell them who’s who in the town, so they’re not starting from scratch every time.”

Celebrating Heritage, Preserving Open Spaces, and Focusing on Future Development

The Town is a unique and special place, evidenced by its distinctive historical town hall, which is constructed with rocks from every farm in the area. Swansea’s unparalleled character is further enriched by community events like “Holiday in the Village” held in the historic district, and the annual Purple Heart Softball Game which pays tribute to Purple Heart Veterans. Community happenings such as these contribute to the quaintness of the centuries-old town and strengthen the bond among its residents.

Maintaining a delicate balance between growth and preservation, Swansea continues to acquire available farmland to protect open spaces. These lands are then repurposed into community amenities, ensuring that the community retains its charm while offering top-notch amenities for residents. “We have agrarian roots,” says Aronstein.

“Oddly enough celery was grown here before the Industrial Revolution. We still have working, active farms to this day.” Swansea has several well-known farms including Johnson’s Roadside Market, established in 1982 on a 20-acre property, and Almeida’s Vegetable Patch, in operation since 1928 as a working farm and farm stand. Highlighting two other Swansea landmarks, Stoney Creek Farm and Baker Farm and the Ice Cream Barn, she says, “We have all of these tributes and hallmarks back to our agrarian roots. That is what helps maintain that small-town feel.”

Looking ahead, Aronstein emphasizes the importance of the consolidation of several town facilities, including the town hall, town hall annex, council on aging building, and a highway garage, into a two-building municipal complex. These buildings require repair, and the plan is to create a more efficient and centralized space for municipal operations.

“We cannot continue to do what we’re doing without these new buildings. So, I’m very focused on that,” she asserts.

“As far as the coming year, I am hoping to get the sewer up and running, while working with some federal partners, the congressman specifically, to help us finance that critical infrastructure. That will be the real focus of 2024, the town buildings, sewer infrastructure, and how we can keep making this the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

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Swansea, Massachusetts


Swansea, Massachusetts

What: A historic town in Massachusetts South Coast Region, embracing growth and possibility.

Where: Bristol County, Massachusetts

Website: www.swanseama.gov


YMCA Southcoast – www.ymcasc.org

The Stoico/Firstfed YMCA in Swansea is located on 36 beautiful acres, offering a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities, including a state-of-the-art wellness center, adventure course, sports fields, basketball court, indoor/outdoor pickleball courts, archery, dance and more!  The brand new Splash Pad is the first step towards even more aquatic fun. We’re showing the community that we can raise funds and we need support in order to achieve the ultimate goal someday of building a world class natatorium.  The YMCA offers financial assistance for those experiencing hardship.  In addition to the facilities, the Y offers a robust food distribution every month called The Full Plate Project, where anyone in need can drive through and pick up food. This year, the Council on Aging collaborated with the YMCA to offer a delivery food service to all senior citizens living in Swansea. Additionally, we offer unique programming for cancer survivors (Livestrong), self-defense classes and nutrition education. Everyone is welcome at the YMCA.

Brady Sullivan – bradysullivan.com


August 2023

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