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An update on cultural-district designation request

April 19, 2012 – The MetroWest Daily News – Residents and officials looking to make the downtown area a cultural destination say the process to get a special designation from the state is underway.

Marlborough Downtown Village, working with the Marlborough Economic Development Corp. and the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce, will soon apply to the state to have a portion of downtown designated as a “cultural district.”

“We’re starting to pull it together,” said Mary Scott, chairwoman of Marlborough Downtown Village. “We seem to be really moving forward.”

A group of downtown merchants and representatives from downtown and economic development organizations met with an official for the Massachusetts Cultural Council in the fall to talk about the idea.

The Cultural Council’s Cultural District program, launched last spring, allows towns and cities to designate certain geographic areas as cultural districts.

The designation, organizers say, will open up the city to grant possibilities down the line and attract visitors to local businesses.

Scott said Downtown Village, working closely with the Economic Development Corp., has completed an application to enroll in the program, but said a few steps remain.

She said the application has been sent to Mayor Arthur Vigeant’s office and has received approval there.

Next, it must go to the City Council, which needs to adopt a resolution supporting the initiative.

Scott said organizers are still working with city councilors on the proposal. She said that while they had originally hoped to get the application out in time for a May deadline, she said they might have to shoot for the next application period in the fall.

Scott said the designation would fall in line with the Downtown Village’s general plan to make downtown a hub of arts and commerce. She said the group has been following the recommendations of a 2010 report from Tufts University students on how to enhance the downtown.

The Marlborough Economic Development Corp. last year also released an exhaustive report recommending ways to enhance economic development across the entire city.

Susanne Morreale-Leeber, chamber president and CEO, said the designation will dovetail with other events, such as the Taste of Marlborough. She said it will also boost the city’s profile in the eyes of potential visitors.

“It enables us to almost have a pinpoint on the map of cultural venues,” she said. “A healthy downtown is a healthy community.”

This story originally appeared here.