MARLBOROUGH – As 2021 winds down, the Community Advocate is taking a look back at major stories that shaped the past 12 months.
From COVID-19, to sports championships, to complex discussions in City Council meetings, 2021 has been an eventful year in local news.
Read on for our recap of this year’s top Marlborough stories, and check back over the coming days for similar recaps of stories from other area communities…
Plans to build a large-scale residential development at the old McGee Farm property off Route 20 in Marlborough date back to 2020. Debate on the topic continued this year, though, culminating when the City Council voted to reject developers’ application for a special permit.
That final vote followed a flurry of public comments mainly from opponents of the development. Likewise, it came after the state denied a request to install a traffic light on Route 20, which many City Councilors felt would have been necessary to control traffic to and from a completed Walcott development.
This story now continues as Walcott has appealed the City Council’s decision on this matter.
Wholesale club retailer BJ’s made headlines in April when it took action to move its headquarters to Marlborough.
Currently based in Westborough, BJ’s initially applied for a tax-increment financing (TIF) agreement, which would effectively provide tax incentives to relocate to Marlborough. The City Council approved that agreement in May, though some City Councilors questioned the need for a TIF.
BJ’s is now planning to open its new headquarters in the next year, bringing roughly 800 employees to a space off Campus Drive in Marlborough.
COVID-19 pandemic continues
The COVID-19 pandemic continued through its first full calendar year since it first disrupted daily life in March of 2020.
In Marlborough, 2021 saw complex efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccination, particularly in the early days of the state’s vaccine rollout.
Mayor Arthur Vigeant specifically expressed frustration, at times, as a planned vaccine distribution site at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel lagged for weeks in the state’s approval process during the spring.
Months later, vaccine rates are up. But public officials encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated to get their shots, especially as coronavirus case rates increase.
Marlborough kicked off its long-awaited library renovation project this year, relocating library operations to a temporary home at the Walker Building as contractors began work demolishing a portion of the library.
When complete, the new library will preserve its historic facade, while adding new space for library services.
Library staff expect the project to be complete by the spring of 2023.
The Marlborough Shamrocks put on a show for local football fans this summer, dominating in their regular season before rumbling through their playoff schedule.
They claimed a league championship in October and are now gearing up for a national championship game next month in Florida.