To the editor:
I am sick and tired of the abuse that rains down on Northborough's small businesses, particularly those on Blake Street. Business owners pay substantial rents so that our landlords can pay substantial town taxes. The vast majority of us are not millionaires. On the contrary, most of us worry about paying our bills just like everyone else. Yet, we get treated badly for struggling to keep our heads above water, while big money outfits such as Northborough Crossing get the red carpet treatment from the town, and a warm welcome from residents who shop there.
Last summer, small businesses lost a lot of money while the town and the Commonwealth crawled through the downtown beautification project at a snail's pace. And more to come this year! The town never communicated with us so that we could put our heads together with them to figure out how to mitigate the negative effects of the construction. And when we put up signs to let people know we were still here and still open, there was an uproar. The town's response? It got busy sending threatening letters to us because of the signs.
I’ve lived in Northborough for 28 years and I gladly serve on a town committee. But I’m dismayed by the apparent hostility of our town toward small business.? Shrewsbury and Westborough are much more attentive to and supportive of their small business partners. They seem to understand that, though small, they are an essential part of a healthy community.
In the 15 years that I’ve owned a business here, I’ve never once received a friendly, or even a positive communication from the town, though I have friendly relationships with the people who work at town hall. What I have received is a mountain of bills, notices of restrictions, and warnings of various sorts. Indeed when I started out, the town tried to shut me down.
Enough is enough.
First: Northborough should lift restrictions on sidewalk signs, and temporary signs, while the downtown area is under construction, and they should explain to residents why they’re doing it. “Because we care about our businesses and want them to thrive while we remodel!” would be a good communication.
Second: The bylaws must be amended to allow more signage on commercial buildings in town. The current restrictions are not reasonable in today's world.
Third: The town should work with Blake Street businesses to decide how to put up signage on Main Street that points to our presence.? The recent addition of an electronic notice board is evidence that residents can tolerate signage on town land. Blake Street is in effect a hidden retail mall and it has a right to act like one. From balloons, to used clothing, pizza, bowling, fine dining, dog care, and residential rentals: commerce abounds on Blake Street. Let's acknowledge and support that reality!
Susan LaDue, owner Doggie Den, Northborough