Marlborough City Council president talks priorities for new term

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City Councilor Michael Ossing takes the oath of office at Marlborough’s municipal inauguration earlier this month. Ossing was re-elected as Council president moments later on inauguration day alongside Vice President Kathleen Robey. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

MARLBOROUGH – Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant took time in his inaugural address earlier this month to note plans for his next term in Marlborough’s highest office. 

Back at City Hall that same morning, newly re-elected City Council President Michael Ossing offered his thoughts and perspective on the next two years of action in the council’s chamber. 

Capital projects move forward

Beyond efforts to slow and ideally emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, projects like the ongoing Marlborough Public Library renovation effort are priorities, Ossing said. 

He said he would like to see the city finalize plans on a proposed fire station on the west side of town, ideally breaking ground within this current legislative session. 

He also spotlighted efforts to revitalize the downtown area, particularly around the intersection of Lincoln and Mechanic Street. 

The city won a state grant to support plans there, and is looking to revitalize its broader downtown area as a destination for community members both within Marlborough and its municipal neighbors. 

Ossing noted a series of housing and residential projects that will also require attention.

“We’ll see what the mayor has,” he said of other possible work. 

City to receive ARPA funding

Marlborough is receiving money through a state spending bill allocating funds from the federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA). 

Some of that has come in the form of earmarks for broadband and software improvements. 

A separate allocation within that bill is sending money that the city will get to assign to certain projects and initiatives. 

Vigeant wrote in a letter to the City Council in December that the city plans to use “a large majority” of that latter money for water and sewer projects. 

The City Council voted to accept funding on Dec. 20. It will hear updates on specific planned uses as they’re determined, Ossing told fellow councilor Samantha Perlman following that vote.

Officials hope ‘mini’ cell towers improve connectivity

Ossing noted city efforts to install “mini” cell towers on telephone poles throughout Marlborough. 

This project is ongoing and comes as local officials look to improve connectivity issues facing some community members. 

“If you’ve driven down Route 20 in Marlborough you know that there’s no service anywhere from almost the Sudbury border all the way to downtown Marlborough,” State Rep. Danielle Gregoire recently told the Community Advocate. 

Gregoire said that these new towers are much less costly to install because they can be put on almost any pre-existing electrical pole, which will significantly reduce permitting and construction costs while avoiding the local opposition that larger cell towers often attract.

“Everybody needs more internet, especially now that everybody’s home,” she said.

“Those might be able to help us, so we’ll take a look at that,” Ossing said following inauguration. “It will be good.”

Ossing weighs in on Campus debate

While the City Council resolved a number of matters before it at the end of 2021, topics including a proposed development at the intersection of Simarano Drive and Forrest Street are some of several items still up for discussion. 

Some councilors have, at times, disagreed with Mayor Vigeant in recent weeks as Vigeant has recommended certain actions based on concerns about developers’ plans for that project. 

He and some on the council are particularly worried about the timing of construction, which could build residential aspects of the planned mixed-use Campus development before commercial elements that the city wants to see. 

The Council referred the matter back to its Urban Affairs Committee on Dec. 20.

“I think it will get resolved,” Ossing said of the ongoing conversation. “At the end of the year, a lot of things were kind of challenging for things to wrap up. I think with clear sites now, they’ll take a fresh look at it again and I think they’ll come to some kind of mutual understanding of how they want to see the commercial plus the residential being developed down at the Campus.”

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