Anthony Velardo’s recent letter to the editor highlights an important issue I frequently hear from people: the need to make our shopping centers a productive part of each of the neighborhoods they serve.
I hear you Anthony, and I hear your neighbors.
Massachusetts has a 2.5% unemployment rate. Yet, we are the only community in MetroWest that has five blighted or underutilized shopping centers. This is unacceptable for Framingham.
We need to work together, neighborhood by neighborhood, in a transparent and participatory process to create a strategic master plan that embodies our values, speaks to our dreams and meets our needs.
Our shopping centers should reflect the needs of its surrounding neighborhoods. As you suggested, Anthony, we need to look at activities for all ages. We need to explore ways to connect our shopping centers to our open spaces, like downtown with Farm Pond and Nobscot Plaza with our working farms. We need to find solutions that not only bring Framingham revenue for our schools, public safety and public works programs, but ones that strengthen the character, security and vitality of our neighborhoods.
I am committed to convening interested parties, listening to everyone’s ideas, building consensus on a strategic plan, and then rolling up my sleeves to secure the public and private resources to finally make these goals a reality.
The naysayers will say it cannot be done, but my experience in government says otherwise. During my decade in Framingham government, when we needed more revenue for our schools and municipal services, we collaborated to get the long stalled 9/90 project done – generating jobs and tax revenue for Framingham.
We need to believe in our collective knowledge and power to make these parcels productive once again for the neighborhoods they serve and our wider community.