Consultant presents three scenarios for downtown

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NORTHBOROUGH – After receiving feedback from residents and business owners, consultants presented three potential scenarios for downtown Northborough during a meeting at the Northborough Free Library May 11.

Northborough’s most recent master plan was completed in 2020. According to Master Plan Implementation Committee Chair Rick Leif, one of the key takeaways from the plan was a desire to improve downtown Northborough, including improvements to parking, making it more pedestrian-friendly and bringing in more businesses.

Leif said the goal of the meeting was to solicit questions and feedback from residents so that the plan could then be further refined.

Three total scenarios were presented to the audience.

“Even though they’re numbered scenario one, scenario two, scenario three, that doesn’t mean they have to happen in that order,” said Leif. “These things can happen in any order that makes sense to do them. Parts of these scenarios can be done independent of other parts.”

He also cautioned that the work could not be done at once but instead over a period of years.

Leif noted that the plan doesn’t assume that anything would happen to privately-owned land until the current owners decide whether they want to participate in the plan or sell to a developer.

Consultant presents three scenarios for downtown
Posters of the three scenarios were on display during the meeting. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Scenario One

The three scenarios were presented by Weston and Sampson’s Johnathan Law.

The first scenario is being called the Entertainment Hub and would be located near Blake Street and the fire station. Under this proposal, Blake Street would be turned into a one-way street with parking on one side of the street.

The old Town Hall would be redeveloped into restaurants and bars with apartments above along with four other mixed-use structures. According to Law’s presentation, there would be a new parking garage to serve the residential development in the parking lot behind CVS.

The fire station, Law said, would be a great location for a restaurant with possibly a retail development or cafe with a plaza with connection to Cold Harbor Brook. The proposal calls for a plaza with an art installation along the rail tracks.

Consultant presents three scenarios for downtown
Posters of the three scenarios were on display during the meeting. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Scenario Two

Scenario two is called Downtown Extension and would develop the Harvey property, creating a two-way road connecting Hudson Street to Main Street. There would be parking on both sides of the street, sidewalks and street trees.

Law said there were opportunities for a combination of mixed-use and housing development and “lots and lots” public open space, including a trail system adjacent to the Assabet River.

Consultant presents three scenarios for downtown
Posters of the three scenarios were on display during the meeting. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Scenario Three

Scenario three is called Assabet Mill and would be located on properties bordered by West Main, South and Gale streets. This scenario would connect to the Town Common.

Law said this would also focus on mixed-use development and housing. The houses are designed to be townhomes, he said.

At the center of the development would be public open space. There would be a new street to make a straight connection between West Main and Gale; Law said the current street weaves between the two.

He noted that the plans call for pulling the curb edge back along West Main Street to allow for parallel parking, street trees and wider sidewalks.

The plans also call for surface parking in addition to parallel parking surrounding the site.

Next steps

The presentation prompted a number of questions from the attendees, including questions regarding the amount of housing, public transportation and current height restrictions in downtown.

According to Leif, the goal is to have another community meeting, and, based off the results of the meeting, show a final plan and a plan of attack.

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