April 15, 2011 – Amid talks of economic development and master plans, a handful of local owners brought human faces yesterday to the city’s struggle to reshape its business environment.
A convenience store owner said he sells milk cheaper than the chain next door but can’t get the right sign to advertise. Rte. 20 business leaders complained about the scent of sewage drifting from the eastern edge of the city. A picture-framer lamented the time she spends telling customers how to simply find her door.
The Marlborough Economic Development Corp. welcomed the comments yesterday as part of the city’s effort to gather research for a new master plan, which will set the tone for new bylaws and other business and development changes for the next few years. With the help of Boston-based Cecil Group, the economic committee is hosting focus groups and forums, aiming to make a set of goals and an action plan by July.
Yesterday’s forum – one of 13 that will include development representatives, city officials, residents and landlords – gave a voice to eastern Marlborough’s local business owners, most of whom had specific ideas for changes they want to see.
Jim Kambosos, owner of Capital Farms and Capital Liquors on Boston Post Road East, said business went down 40 percent at his convenience store after Walgreens opened in the area.
“(Big businesses are) making it harder and harder for small mom and pop stores to compete,” Kambosos said. “I went from the penthouse to the poor house in a month.”
Walgreens put up a scrolling sign outside, so Kambosos tried to put up a similar advertising device, to show he had cheaper milk.
The city shot down the effort, though.
“Our sign is our way to get everyone in,” Kambosos said.
Randi Isaacson’s beef is with simple logistics.
Customers searching for her certified picture-framing skills have to circle around the corner to find the door to the Post Road Art Center door.
“I spend my life telling people how to get in,” she said.
Isaacson said downtown Marlborough has done a nice job cleaning up, but she’d like to see that effort continued down Rte. 20 and Rte. 85.
“People want to go where it looks nice,” Isaacson said.
“We’ve got to do something different than what we’re doing,” said Delano, who pushed for a specific focus group for eastern Marlborough.
Zoning requirements have caused trouble for local businesses, he said, and the distinct smell of the treatment plant and transfer station on the eastern edge of the city hasn’t helped, either.
“Who wants to drive by there and then stop for lunch?” Delano said of the Rte. 20 stretch. “It’s just not inviting.”
With the treatment plant being upgraded, Delano pressed for plans to minimize the odor to be included as well.
The economic committee’s executive director, George Ciccone, complimented the “very lively exchanges and discussions” over the two days of the focus groups, which drew about 200 people.
The organization plans to hold a public forum May 21 at Marlborough High School.
This story originally appeared here