Southborough hopes to discuss collaboration, mitigation funds with Amazon

453

By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer

Plans filed with the Westborough Planning Board show the facade of a proposed Amazon distribution facility in Westborough. (Photo/Via Town of Westborough)

SOUTHBOROUGH – The Southborough Board of Selectmen hopes to speak with the Economic Development Council soon on the best approach to garner funds and/or establish a relationship with Amazon.

This comes after Amazon bought property, last month, at 4400 Computer Dr. in Westborough along the Southborough border. 

Amazon paid $65 million for land where it plans to build a 221,000 square foot distribution center. The plan includes demolishing the existing structure on the 93-acre parcel.

Amazon previously opened a robotics manufacturing facility in Westborough back in October. The project included a 350,000-square-foot building featuring manufacturing space, offices and research development labs where robots are tested.

The retail giant also has sorting centers in Northborough.

Selectmen plan approach to Amazon discussions

Chair Lisa Braccio said at the Jan. 4 Selectmen meeting that easy access to Route 9, Route 495 and the Mass Pike means that Southborough’s traffic will be impacted by this Amazon project.

“We know, if Route 9 traffic backs up, we’re going to have trucks and traffic coming through Southborough,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt to ask if mitigation money is out there for Southborough.”

Braccio said that she didn’t know whether it was too late in the process to have conversations with Westborough and/or Amazon officials about the possibilities. 

“You never get anything if you don’t ask them questions,” she said, though

Braccio said Southborough received $30,000 in mitigation funds when Legacy Farms located in Hopkinton.

“There could be [an] opportunity here,” she said.

Selectman Sam Stivers suggested that a less heavy-handed approach may work better. 

He said Southborough could have resources and capabilities that Amazon may be interested in for auxiliary purposes.

“Let’s not go with hat in hand or with hammer,” Stivers said, “but say `How can we work together for both our benefits?’” 

Stivers said “it might unlock the wallet a bit,” if Amazon and Southborough officials talk about things that could be useful to Amazon’s business rather than using a “straight `What are you going to do for me?’ conversation.” 

The other selectmen said they are agreeable to meeting with the EDC, possibly on Jan. 18, to discuss the matter.

Selectmen discuss re-starting outreach program

In related business, the board also is amenable to talking to the EDC about re-starting an outreach program with local businesses.

Braccio noted that in the past, she and a former EDC chair visited local establishments, answered questions and were able to provide quick results for them.

“I found it extremely valuable and the companies appreciated it,” she said. 

Braccio added that the goal is to retain businesses and bring new ones to town.

Selectmen will talk with the EDC about how to set up the process again and establish perimeters. That meeting will take place either on Jan. 18 or at a February meeting.

RELATED CONTENT

Westborough e-commerce project receives conditional approval

Amazon reps respond to traffic concerns at Northborough Selectmen meeting