$250K in ARPA funds allotted for downtown Northborough improvements

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$250K in ARPA funds allotted for downtown Northborough improvements
A streetscape project may be coming to downtown Northborough. (Photo/Tami White)

NORTHBOROUGH – American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in the amount of $250,000 were allocated by the Select Board for a phase one downtown revitalization streetscape project.

The downtown revitalization plan was presented on Jan. 18 during a joint meeting of the Select Board and Master Plan Implementation Committee (MPIC).

MPIC Chair Rick Leif noted that the plan had a lot of recommendations regarding redevelopment, and it could be a multiyear effort.

“But it’s also important to recognize that the plan is a guide,” he said. “It’s not our expectation that everything in the plan is going to get done exact as it’s said in the plan.”

The plan outlines three different scenarios.

The first scenario is called the Entertainment Hub, and it includes the Old Town Hall, former fire station and Main, Church and Pierce streets. The fire station would be turned into a restaurant, cafe and/or restaurant with public open space and connection to Cold Harbor Brook.

According to Weston and Sampson’s Johnathan Law, this scenario would be heavily pedestrianized.

Scenario two is called the Downtown Extension and would be located on the Harvey property bordering the Assabet River. A road would be built through the site with mixed-use buildings near Main and Hudson streets. The plan calls for a riverfront walkway along the Assabet.

The final scenario is called Assabet Mill and is located between Main, South and Gale streets and near the Town Common. Here, residents voiced interest in bars and restaurants, municipal parking, housing and repurposing empty buildings.

During the meeting, the consultants outlined short-term strategies that could be implemented within the first three years. After, Planning Director Laurie Connors pitched a phase one streetscape project.

$250K in ARPA funds allotted for downtown Northborough improvements
The streetscape project will be focused on Blake Street, including upgrades to this pocket park. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

The streetscape project is focused on Blake Street, a portion of Pierce, the nearby municipal parking lots and the pocket park near the intersection of Blake and Route 20.

Connors identified several proposed improvements, including considering making Blake one-way to be able to use more of the road for on-street parking and/or widen the sidewalk. The pocket park could be upgraded with seating, a bike rack, pavers, landscaping and art. Street trees, pedestrian-scale lights and charging stations could be installed along with rain gardens and way-finding signs.

She also proposed reducing private parking lot driveway widths using curbs and landscaping; adding parking lot striping; creating pedestrian connections, including to War Memorial Park and upgrading the sidewalks to be ADA-compliant.

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