Northfield panel focuses on future of Main Street
Master Plan event set for Wednesday
NORTHFIELD — While an in-the-works master plan will outline a 20-year vision for the entire town, an upcoming master plan event focuses on a single street.
“One of the things that we heard as a desire of the town, in our previous forums, was to preserve and enhance Main Street,” said Richard Fitzgerald, chairman of the Master Plan Roundtable.
The roundtable will hold a panel discussion on the future of the town’s Main Street at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Northfield Elementary School.
While the roundtable has held two townwide forums, as well as smaller, more focused ones, collecting residents’ ideas, concerns and hopes for the future of their town, Wednesday’s event will be more of a panel discussion.
“We’re still finalizing the guest list,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re hoping to have someone from the state Department of Transportation. Locally, we’ll have representatives from the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board, some local residents, members of the business community and Highway Superintendent Tom Walker.”
They’ll talk about possibilities for developing Main Street while keeping its character, as well as the challenges that may come up in doing so.
“Main Street has its own flavor,” said Fitzgerald. The town’s main thoroughfare is home to several historic homes and buildings.
“We want to keep what we like about Main Street, but bring more vitality to it,” Fitzgerald continued.
One possible issue with Main Street planning lies in its ownership. It’s not just Main Street, it’s also part of routes 10 and 63, and it’s owned by the state. That means decisions on everything from curb cuts and crosswalks to speed limits and maintenance are made in Boston, not Town Hall.
Several residents at previous master plan forums have expressed a desire to have the town take back ownership of its Main Street.
Their concerns included speeding vehicles and large trucks using noisy engine brakes through the town’s quiet center.
While it would give the town more liberty to do what it wants with the road, ownership would also put the burden of maintaining Main Street back onto the town’s shoulders, Fitzgerald said.
“There are a lot of pros and cons to it,” he said.
Questions may be asked in person, or submitted via email beforehand, to email@example.com.
Coming up Oct. 3
Another panel discussion, focused on townwide economic development, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 3.
Though the panel discussions won’t be as hands-on as the master plan forums, there will still be an opportunity for residents to ask questions and make comments.