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Main Street Ideas Include Wider Sidewalks, Making One-Way Roads Two-Way

Public invited to add their two cents on area's future at 6 p.m. tonight, Stage Right Studio.

 

When the Main Street Recommendations Workshop meets at 6 p.m. tonight, they'll review two big ideas suggested during their September session - widening sidewalks and switching some one-way streets to two-way.

The meeting at Stage Right Studio, 68 South Main St., will also discuss altering zoning along Main Street, likely with an overlay district, which Jennifer Siciliano, city planner/deputy director of community planning said allows both less and more-restrictive modifications of local zoning.

Right now, Main Street is zoned C1- a mixed use area allowing residences on the upper floors and commercial tenants on the ground floors, Siciliano said. From the city's appendix C - Zoning: "C-1 Urban Commercial District, primarily for the conduct of retail trade, administrative and professional services, and service to the general public.  Also permits upper story residential use.  A minimum of six thousand (6,000) square feet is required per lot."

According to the city's 2012 Comprehensive Plan, the Main Street area is already governed by an overlay district regulating design of new development, but not use. "A separate Main Street Overlay District should be adopted that will hold development on Main Street to a higher standard, both through uses restrictions and clear design and signage guidelines," according to the Comprehensive Plan. Siciliano said the workshop is also discussing allowing temporary uses to fill spaces short-term during festivals. 

Siciliano said switching roads along and leading to Main Street from one-way to two-way was very popular among the September attendees. She said the wider sidewalks were suggested to allow businesses to create sidwalk cafes and other amenities along the street. That idea, however, would sacrifice on-street parking. A possible compromise, Siciliano said, could involve widening the sidewalks in some areas and keeping some on-street parking. 

Economic Development Director Matt Wojcik has said there is ample parking for Main Street patrons within walking distance of the thoroughfare at several points. 

Siciliano said tonight's meeting will be spent reviewing these options and discussing new ideas with Eunice Kim, a consultant with The Cecil Group, a Boston, MA consultancy firm specializing in urban design, community planning with experience in helping institutions, towns and cities. The firm provided peer review design for the 4.5 million square foot Westwood Station project for the town of Westwood, MA.

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