OEDC’s roadmap for doing something about Downtown; plus Broker Breakfast on Friday (Updated)

by beth on September 20, 2017

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Southborough’s Economic Development Committee has put out a second issue of “Doing Business in Southborough”. This time the focus is on answering the frequently asked question “What are You Doing about Downtown?

And, while I’m posting about the EDC, I should note that they are hosting another “Broker Breakfast” this Friday. The event runs from 7:30 – 8:45 am on Friday, September 22 at St. Mark’s School. 

The forum for commercial real estate brokers and municipal leaders is intended to “keep commercial vacancies low and business prospering in Southborough”. Developers, investors, lenders, new enterprise, employers, public officials, private business, and commercial property owners, residents, other interested parties are also encouraged to attend. Items on the agenda for this session are: municipal update, transportation choices, driving local & regional growth, reinvestment, Q&A, and networking. To register or learn more, click here.

Now back to the downtown issue. Many residents and business owners have publicly lamented that downtown appears to be deteriorating.  The question of what can be done to fix that is often lobbed at Town officials, especially the EDC.

In the EDC newsletter, member Julie Connelly writes that doing something requires resident input and participation. With community help, the committee hopes to present a “revitalization plan” to voters this spring.

To that end, the EDC has asked the community to weigh in on their vision of downtown by answering their survey. Once the survey results are in, the EDC will analyze and present the results to the public and continue to seek more feedback. That includes working with outside groups like the Urban Land Institute to “help us refine our goals based on resident feedback from the survey and our open sessions.”

Next, the EDC will:

seek grants, if applicable, and with support of Town leadership, committees and commissions, present a revitalization plan to the Town for your consideration at the Spring 2018 Town Meeting.

Connelly explains the downtown issue:

When I first joined EDC, I was motivated in part by my own personal vision of what a vibrant, community oriented Downtown should look like. But of course, “fixing” Downtown means different things to everyone. Many residents are concerned about traffic flow and over development, and want to take measures to preserve our bucolic charm. Others envision a mixed-use “village” in the Downtown area to enhance the services, restaurants, and amenities our residents already enjoy there. Seeking middle ground offers plenty of room for innovative discussions which may include beautification, parking, walkability, small businesses, and connectivity to other areas of town.

A variety of factors present hurdles to immediate meaningful improvements – private land ownership, zoning, water treatment, and limited space all inhibit most of the grander visions, but since so many people are asking the questions “What are you going to do about Downtown?” the EDC is proposing a roadmap to answering that question.

The EDC is comprised of residents, and residents are who we serve. We understand our Main Street is the heart of our community, and it belongs to everyone who calls Southborough home. In trying to answer this question, we are taking all-encompassing steps to ensure that any project we seek to promote or accomplish is built upon the desires of the residents, and maximizes resident input and transparency. In short, revitalization efforts driven by the EDC will be accomplished with resident input and participation, and we envision the role of the EDC to be simply structural – we will put the toolsin place to collect data on what residents want, analyze and present that data, host open meetings to discuss, engage outside, non-partisan groups to help us hone and create a roadmap for potential improvements, and then present the proposed “next steps” to the residents at the annual Town Meeting in the Spring.

For the full article, click here. If you haven’t yet answered the survey, you can learn more about that here.

Updated (9/21/17 4:08 pm): I removed liar which was from last year. Note, it had a different location among other details. So make sure you go to St. Mark’s.

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