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Aug 28

Focus on Downtown Ashland

Posted on August 28, 2018 at 4:55 PM by Michael Herbert

As many of you know I put a particular emphasis on revitalizing our downtown. If asked why, I typically give two reasons. First, from a resident perspective, the most common complaint I hear from all different segments of our population is the condition of our downtown. This is supported with both anecdotal evidence but even quantitative evidence through our National Citizens Survey instrument.


My second reason is really more centered around my professional training and experience. Downtowns are typically the hearts of communities. They are spaces that all residents and visitors can share. As communities were established, downtowns became the central location where everyone congregated to live, do business, worship, and enjoy recreational activities. It has been shown that if a community has a successful downtown, that success is likely to radiate to other parts of the community.


Downtown Design Forum - September 25th


The final downtown design forum will be held on September 25th with the location to be determined. Over the last year Ashland has worked with BSC Engineering to come up with new streetscape designs. Utilizing input from two public forums, and the CoUrbanize platform, we will be pleased to present the final desigs on September 25th. The new design will incorporate both bike lanes and wider sidewalks in strategic locations, new crosswalk designs, and placemaking amenities that will not only make our downtown more attractive, but it will also make it safer for pedestrians and help with traffic congestion.



The next step is to take this design and finalize the engineering over the next year, with the hopes of putting out bid documents next fall.


You can find more information including previous presentations at our CoUrbanize page:

https://courbanize.com/projects/ashlanddowntown/comaps/48



Downtown Business Improvement District Meeting - September 6th - Ashland Public Library


Through a Massachusetts Downtown Initiative Grant, Ashland is exploring the feasibility of establishing a Business Improvement District (“BID”). What is a BID? A BID is essentially a voluntary special assessment that businesses can participate in. The funding through the BID is dedicated towards improvements and expenses within the district.


A good example of a BID is the one recently established in Hudson - you can read more about it here: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/20180715/hudson-bid-brings-downtown-improvements


This meeting will have guests and experts who will share their experiences developing Business Improvement Districts, and some of the pitfalls to avoid when starting one. We invite anyone interest in our downtown to attend.


Dragonfly Festival - Mill Pond - September 22


The Dragonfly Festival has been rescheduled for September 22 from 1PM to 6PM. This free event is a great opportunity to listen to some great music, and frequent some great vendors. If you have ever been you will know it is a great time.


More information and lineups can be found at: http://dragonflyashland.org/


Ashland Public Safety Building Open Houses Downtwon - September 22


Our Police and Fire Departments will be hosting another open house to help residents understand the impact of our inadequate facilities on September 22nd at 1PM at the Main Street Police and Fire Stations. In November, we are asking taxpayers to fund $3.5 million for engineering and design of a new joint public safety building. If successful, it wouldl allow us to leverage $25 million in construction funding from the state. If you have an interest in seeing just how important this request is, I would encourage you to attend.


Riverwalk Project


After many months our Riverwalk project is expected to break ground next week. The first stage of the project will be construction of the stone dust path, constructing an observation deck on the western side of the project, and the construction of an ADA accessible parking lot near the kennel. Abutments for the long span bridge close to Mill Pond park will be completed in the fall as well, with the installation of the long span bridge happening in the Spring. Thanks to the Open Space Committee for their diligent efforts on the project. I would also be remiss if I did not single out Assistant Town Manager Jenn Ball for the tremendous amount of work she has put in working with engineers, contractors, abutters, and other stakeholders to ensure the best project possible.



100 Main Street


Progress continues to be made on the old “Brick Store” at 100 Main Street. This rehabilitation project is taking the current historical structure and renovating it into two condominium units while maintaining the structure itself and many of the historical elements. The Metrowest Daily News recently did an overview of the project, and you can read about it here:


http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/20180529/tired-but-historic-ashland-main-street-house-to-get-facelift


Other Development Projects


There are also a number of private development projects downtown that are currently under review. These include a brewery at the old CNO Box Company at 40 Cherry Street, as well as a mixed use building on 128 Main Street. You can find more information about the projects at our CoUrbanize sites:


https://courbanize.com/projects/ashland-40-cherry/information


https://courbanize.com/projects/128main-ashland/information









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