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Panel suggests changes for downtown Marlborough

WICKED LOCAL – While Marlborough is succeeding in luring new large companies to its office parks, consultants told city officials on Wednesday that development of a potentially bustling downtown is lagging.

Members of a Technical Assistance Panel from the Urban Land Institute spent the day in the city Wednesday and presented a short list of recommendations to the Urban Affairs Committee Wednesday evening.

The panel, which was paid for by a grant from MassDevelopment, focused on ways to improve downtown. The group will prepare a report that will be forwarded to the city in about two months.

The panel addressed four main questions on Wednesday, said panel co-Chairman Dick Lampman – whether there is enough parking, what incentives are available to make financing redevelopment projects feasible, if land use regulations exist to encourage commercial growth and what land uses are appropriate for the corridor.

On parking, panel co-Chairman Scott Payette told the committee that downtown  actually has adequate parking now, but said the city should put signs up pointing out where the parking garages are. He also said the city should more rigidly enforce parking time limit restrictions to ensure that on-street parking spots aren’t being used by the same car all day.

Panel member Robert Buckley said that the city needs to revise downtown zoning to remove disincentives. Creating an overlay zoning district and allowing zero lot lines could help draw developers downtown, as could easing parking space requirements, he said.

Panel member Steve Heiken told the committee that he believes that Granger Boulevard, running parallel to Main Street, is underused.

“Granger and Main together really would define another larger downtown district,” he said. “The real development opportunities are on Granger.”

Heiken said that several parcels on Granger, most notably the Post Office, aren’t being used to their full potential.

Panelist Eric Fellinger told the committee that traffic on Granger appears to be light enough to make a cut back to one lane feasible, which would make room for parking and a bike lane on the street.

In the short term, the panel suggested that the city could improve lighting and signage downtown. They also suggested taking steps like creating a branding and marketing plan for the area and starting a mural program.

This story originally appeared here.