SHREWSBURY – Visitors to Shrewsbury’s Town Center may have seen new blue signs on Main Street announcing that they are now entering the Town Center.
The recently installed signs are part of a grant-funded wayfinding project in Shrewsbury.
“It provides a sense of place,” Director of Planning and Economic Development Bernie Cahill told the Community Advocate last month. “Having the gateway there, it really starts to define the cultural and economic center and the boundaries of the center.”
The signs also provide branding for the Town Center area, which Cahill noted can be a marketing tool to give the area a sense of identity.
“We’re really excited to see them go in,” Cahill said ahead of the signs’ installation. “We hope the community likes them as much as we do.”
Project dates back to master plan
This project dates back several years to Shrewsbury’s previous master plan in 2016. According to Cahill, one of the goals identified in that plan was to consider implementing wayfinding.
Wayfinding was then reiterated as a recommendation stemming from Shrewsbury’s Local Rapid Recovery Plan, which aims to revitalize the Town Center.
Shrewsbury initially received a $15,000 grant from the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative in 2019 to go toward community branding and wayfinding.
The advisory committee working on the project helped come up with the design of the signs. The committee also identified different types of signs and ideal locations for them.
The committee was wrapping up its efforts when COVID-19 struck, Cahill said.
“It pushed us off with our consultant who was doing the final branding and wayfinding report,” Cahill said.
More than a year after that delay, the town received a $48,926.90 grant last year through Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program to fund the actual fabrication and installation of the wayfinding signs.
The signs were then installed in May.
While some of the signs announce that visitors are entering the Town Center, some of the others more specifically help with wayfinding.
For example, there’s a sign at the entrance to the Shrewsbury Public Library advertising available parking.
Another sign at the corner of Grafton and Main streets points visitors to Dean and Prospect parks, the Artemas Ward House, Mountain View Cemetery, the Town Center and the Police Department.
Town continues efforts in Town Center
All this is part of a larger effort to strengthen Shrewsbury’s Town Center.
The town passed a series of new zoning bylaws at Town Meeting in 2020 to create a new Town Center Zoning District.
The Board of Selectmen have separately been working with a developer to turn the former Beal school overlooking the Town Center into a new mixed-use development.
Meeting last month, Town Meeting approved a transportation study for the town center area aimed at evaluating how traffic moves through that part of town.
Officials now plan to use the results of the study to make improvements in the area.