By Alexandra Molnar, Contributing Writer
Northborough – A group of Northborough residents is hoping that a parcel of land in the downtown area will eventually become a green town common with spots for people to sit and relax as well as have walking paths.
The property, located at 39 West Main St., is now owned by the town after the prior owner defaulted on their taxes. The Board of Selectmen created the 39 West Main Street Committee (also known as the Selectmen Ad-Hoc Committee) to assess possible options for the property. Those options included selling the land at auction, sell by request for proposal (RFP), or retain it for municipal use.
After learning of the ad-hoc committee, a group of residents who desired that the space be turned into a green town common, formed the Northborough Town Common Committee (NTCC).
Over a two-week period, the NTCC collected 525 signatures with the aim of delaying the decision to sell the 39 West Main St. property. They presented the signatures to the selectmen’s ad-hoc committee.
In turn, the ad-hoc committee recommended to the selectmen that the town wait one year to formally decide what to do with the property.
The recommendation to delay the process has given the NTCC time to collaborate with various town boards to try to accomplish their goal of having their application for the creation of a town common accepted for the Town Meeting in 2016.
The NTCC now hopes to complete an application for Community Preservation Act (CPA) monies in 2016 that could be used to purchase the 39 West St. property and two other adjacent properties, which could be then turned into a town common.
To do so, the NTCC must first submit the application to the Community Preservation Committee (CPC), who will review the application and make a recommendation. That proposal then must be voted on at Town Meeting.
Currently 30 percent of a town’s CPA money must be set aside equally for each of the following three categories: open space, historic preservation, and affordable housing. The remaining 70 percent can be allocated among those categories, as the CPC and the town chooses. Part of the 70 percent may also go towards recreational usage.
According to the members of the NTCC, a town green would benefit the town in many ways, first and foremost as an open space for all residents to enjoy.
“Whether you are shopping in the downtown, watching a parade, attending Applefest or any other community celebration, this would be a piece of our downtown area for all to appreciate,” said Terry Giannetto.
In addition to serving as a public space for enjoyment, Carolyn Guarino said that the environmental benefits of a green space are numerous. Having a green space with soil and grass would allow for natural drainage which would help replenish groundwater supplies.
The NTCC is currently working with landscape designer and Northborough resident Diane Smith to determine the possibilities for the parcel of land. Smith envisions an open space with gardens, benches, and trees where people can gather. The aim is to provide a peaceful respite for everyone, whether you are driving past or pausing to relax in the space itself.
Smith hopes to collaborate with other designers and landscapers, and possibly the Northborough Historical Society, in order to execute a vision that encompasses the ideas and opinions of as many residents as possible. Ideally, depending on the properties available to use, Smith would like the green space to extend to Assabet Park, located on South Street and Gale Street and connect both spaces with pathways.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire this land and create a downtown common area for all residents to enjoy,” said NTCC member Amy Poretsky.
Currently the NTCC members are trying to spread awareness throughout the community about their efforts. They also welcome residents’ feedback on the project. A Facebook page, “Northborough Town Common,” has been set up for those interested to find updated information. Residents may also email for [email protected].