Marlborough, MASS. April 4, 2014 – The Marlborough community would like to see more dining, leisure and entertainment options in the downtown area. This according to 100 local residents, employers and public officials, who gathered at last night’s Downtown Marlborough Public Forum to brainstorm potential plans for the city’s future.
Organized by the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and facilitated by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the open event sought to identify a collective vision for the city’s downtown area that could serve as a long-term roadmap for its future development.
“People in Marlborough care deeply about their city, and that makes holding this kind of event extremely important,” said MEDC Executive Director Tim Cummings. “We’re not just asking the community to support our plans. We are looking for them to guide us, to tell us what they want their city to look and feel like. And I think we are off to a great start.”
Under the guidance of MAPC’s team, forum attendees worked through a number of exercises aimed at answering the question: “How do you envision downtown Marlborough in 20 years?” Together, they came up with a list of a few dozen amenities they would like to see in the city’s downtown area, and then each participant voted for his or her 8 favorites.
With almost 40 votes, an arts and theatre space topped the list of most desirable additions to Marlborough’s Main Street, followed closely by requests for an outdoor café, a brewpub and a movie theater. Local transportation, nightlife options, a music hall, condominiums and a local food market also placed high on the community’s downtown Marlborough wish list.
“Tonight’s event went better than I could have expected,” said Marlborough City Councilor and Urban Affairs Committee Chair Joe Delano, who is a member of the study group working with MEDC on the downtown initiative. “We had such a great turnout, so many great ideas, so many people working together. I think we’re continuing the great momentum we have in the city, and I hope we can put in place the conditions that will allow all the great ideas we have here to come to fruition.”
Forum participants were also shown images of various buildings, and asked to vote on whether they think the architectural styles would be a good fit for Marlborough.
“I think it’s important to get the people’s input,” said City Council President Patricia Pope, who is also a member of the downtown study group. “I was actually pleased that the city councilors were somewhat silent this evening, because we get our opportunity to speak, and this was our opportunity to hear what everybody has to say. Some of the results were pretty surprising to me. I sit on the committee, so when we went through these photos, I was surprised at the few of them that people really didn’t like, and that’s good to know. I guess I can only speak from my perspective, but it certainly changes the way I am going to tackle this. As far as amenities people wanted to see, I think everybody was pretty on target–we’ve talked about those things for a long time–but architecturally it was an interesting conversation, and it is now going to be somewhat ominous to put all of this in words to make it work for folks, but we’re going to do our best.”
“We had such a great turnout of knowledgeable people,” said MAPC project leader, Cynthia Wall. “They are really astute, they know what they want and what they don’t want in their downtown, and they have so many good ideas. It’s a wonderful foundation for this project. I think it’ll be interesting to see how we approach Main Street versus Granger Boulevard, because there are two minds there: one says there is so much we can do and the other says that we have to be cautious that everything blends well together. In any case, I think the opportunities here are limitless.”
“It’s fantastic that we have such a great turnout with such a diverse group of people,” said long-term Marlborough resident Michael Damon. “This event is exactly what I was expecting it to be, and I hope as a result of all this, in five years, we will have a downtown I can go to and hang out in with my family for a couple or a few hours at a time.”
“I’m looking to stay in Marlborough, even though I work in Boston,” said Marlborough resident Nicole Levay. “I grew up here. It’s a nice place to live. A lot of what this city has been evolving into is not happening across the rest of the country, so we’re kind of special. We are a city that has room to grow, and there is still interest in us. So I feel like staying here is good, I feel like we are at a turning point. And I’m glad that so many people are invested in the city, so I definitely plan on continuing to attend these public sessions.”
“It is great to see people’s enthusiasm for the future, and this is definitely exciting,” Cummings said. “But it is also important to keep in mind that this future is highly dependent on the participation of the private sector. We are working to create the right environment, regulations, and policies to assist, support and incentivize the kind of development we would like in our downtown. But ultimately, it is up to the private sector developers to want to join with us in our vision, and we certainly hope that they will.”
In an effort to develop a comprehensive action plan for downtown redevelopment by mid May, MEDC and MAPC plan on holding three more public sessions:
- April 17th – Transportation/Parking
- April 24th – Zoning/Uses
- May 1st – Design Elements
MEDC will also continue collecting responses to its Downtown Marlborough Survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/DowntownMarlboroughSurvey until April 17th.More than 500 people have responded to the survey so far.
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Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is the state chartered economic development corporation for the City of Marlborough, MA and represents a public-private partnership for planning. We work with municipal and private investors to foster economic development, job growth and community revitalization and development. For a complete overview of MEDC visit www.marlboroughedc.com.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) is a regional planning agency serving the people who live and work in the 101 cities and towns of Metro Boston. Their mission is to promote regional collaboration and smart growth through sound municipal management, sustainable land use, protection of natural resources, efficient and affordable transportation, a diverse housing stock, public safety, economic development, an informed public, and equity and opportunity among people of all backgrounds. For a complete overview of MAPC visit www.mapc.org.
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