By David Fassler
Hudson – The May 24 meeting of the 495/MetroWest Development Compact (MAPC) brought together Hudson town planners, state representatives, property owners and developers, as well as senior town leadership, to discuss Hudson's role in a future economic development compact with 36 other surrounding communities.
“The corridor goes all the way up to Westford, all the way down to Foxborough, and west to Worcester,” said Joan Blaustein, a land resources planner for MAPC.
Several state organizations are working with the MAPC, including the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC), the MetroWest Regional Collaborative (MWRC), the 495/MetroWest Partnership (the partnership), and Mass Audubon as a way to help communities in the 495 corridor prepare a comprehensive land use and development plan for the future. The forums are designed to let officials, as well as interested residents, voice their opinions on integrating economic, transportation and infrastructure priorities with neighboring communities.
Several terms were discussed at the meeting relating to the compact's mission. Priority development areas (PDA) are usually areas where facilities and infrastructures exist but are unused or unoccupied. Priority preservation areas (PPA) may include open spaces, protected habitats, trails and other lands to be preserved. Significant transportation investments have the potential to increase efficiency and enhance interconnectivity within the corridor, but first require significant investments. Significant infrastructure investments require upgrading existing municipal services utilities to serve a greater demand.
“There is no transportation here [in Hudson,” said state Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, who represents Bolton, Hudson, Maynard and Stow. “If we don's deal with transportation, we can's talk about anything else.”
Hogan added that in her opinion as a representative, the compact cannot exist without a comprehensive transportation element that first acknowledges the state of Hudson's roads.
“Without public transportation, [the roads] are what we use,” Hogan said. “They are all we use.”
Two other points related to the senior population were brought up by officials at the meeting. As Hudson attempts to attract over-55 communities, those communities will need suitable transportation for an aging demographic. The officials also suggested that the transportation needs of Hudson's disabled community might possibly be integrated with the needs of the seniors.
A map of Hudson displayed at the meeting showed 16 areas for redevelopment ranging from the Brigham Estate to Bonnazoli Avenue, the Intel campus, Highland Commons, Coolidge Street and the Tower Street Mills. Thirty areas are designated as preservation areas including the Riverside Rod & Gun Club, two parcels from the Elk's Club and two parcels from the Portuguese Club, and multiple orchards and farm lands.
Property developers attending the meeting identified poor cell coverage as an area of concern, with some owners of rental properties describing their tenants being able to make telephone calls only outside their homes because of poor service. Land lines for telephones being a thing of the past was a common refrain, as the developers said a relatively young demographic and their use of cell phones are making landlines obsolete.
The next open forum of the 495/MetroWest Compact is Wednesday, June 15, at the Westborough High School and Tuesday June 21, at the Boxborough Holiday Inn. Hudson town officials in attendance at the May 24 meeting included Finance Committee Chair John Parent, Planning Director Jennifer Burke, and recently elected Selectman Chris Yates.