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Special committee to review MEDC proposal

COMMUNITY ADVOCATE – The City Council has received from the Urban Affairs Committee an initial report on the Marlborough Economic Development’s (MEDC) study of suggested changes to the downtown area. Ward 1 City Councilor Joseph Delano, Jr., chair of the Urban Affairs Committee, urged the council at its Feb. 24 meeting to attend review sessions that will be held to discuss the recommendations made by the Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Program’s (ULI  TAP), which did the report.

MEDC Executive Director Tim Cummings has agreed to form a committee including local residents, members of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and city councilors to further study the details of possible zoning changes, gather stakeholder input, and make a recommendation back to the City Council for action by the beginning of May.

“I am very happy to have MEDC working with the City Council to help us turn some of these recommendations into reality,” said Delano. “The first step is for the MEDC and MAPC to work with us to begin crafting a city ordinance that the City Council is comfortable with to allow for some additional uses here in the downtown.”

At a recent session of the Urban Affairs Committee, a panel of ULI experts presented results of their observations, interviews, and discussions outlining their process, planning considerations, challenges and opportunities, vision and recommendations, according to the report given to the council.

The panel concluded that downtown parking is “abundant” and that only 50 percent of it is currently utilized. It was also stated that Granger Boulevard is well under capacity and one or more lanes can be eliminated and used for bike lanes or pedestrian areas, “streetscaping” or other visually appealing purposes. The report recommended eliminating the “slip lane” feeding onto Granger from Route 20.

The report also stated that the current zoning is outdated and does not allow for mixed-use development and should be updated by means of an overlay district. It was suggested that a boutique-type hotel may work well in an underutilized site, along with a gym/fitness center and entertainment.

Other recommendations were to maintain Main Street as a two-way thoroughfare, add bicycle lanes, extend the bike path downtown and reuse the US Postal Service Distribution Center parcel.

Also being considered is to extend business hours for local restaurants. If these changes are enacted, it would be necessary to improve lighting downtown, in cross streets and alleys, the report stated.

This article originally appeared here.