LETTER: Downtown Ashland Character Is Being Destroyed; Save the Mill Complex

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ASHLAND – I am asking that the Ashland Historical Commission vote to deny the demolition permit for 10-60 Main Street.

The Town by-laws charge the Historical Commission to “… protect and preserve significant
buildings in the Town of Ashland”.. This mill complex is a magnificent structure in the middle of our
downtown. It will never be replaceable with proposed restoration and new apartment buildings. The
Commission must do its job to protect Ashland’s History. Any thoughts about the final outcome of the
property development and prior town involvement do not negate the Commission’s responsibility.

Town Character:
o Ashland is quickly losing its historic buildings and they will never come back.
o We are building a homogenized landscape rather than preserving what is unique and special to us.
o The Downtown character is being destroyed instead of re-working the existing buildings into something that fits the size and scale of downtown.
o Ashland is losing its available buildable space and is approaching built out. Do we as citizens want all of the remaining buildable space to be consumed with apartments?

Equity:
o Ashland government has been working with the developer on a project that will displace many small businesses owned by women and minorities.
o The commercial space that will be part of the project will likely offer substantially higher rents making it unaffordable to many current businesses or even potentially new unique businesses by underrepresented demographics.

Economic:
Historic properties are economic assets (look at Hudson, Maynard, and Lowell and many other Mill cities and towns) and often the main drivers of local main street revitalizations.


Dismissive of the Public:
o No public forums have yet been held on the project yet
o Residents have asked for growth in commercial not residential property
o Stated to be a public-private partnership with the public being invited


Sustainability:
The EPA has said it takes 65 years for an energy-efficient new building to save the amount of energy lost in demolition of an existing building.

LAST, but not least – that complex houses a water powered electric generator; one that could produce enough electricity to provide an offset to most of the power that the town uses. That would have enormous value to the town, and could shift how we think about and celebrate this cluster of historic buildings in our town.


Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Catherine Rooney

Ashland

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176


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