By John Stefanini
FRAMINGHAM – We all desire a Downtown that brings us pride, where we eagerly take friends to dinner, shop for our daily needs, or meet to conduct the people’s business.
It is time for all of us to show our commitment to Downtown Framingham, and support our current small businesses, encourage new business growth, and build a center where residents and visitors feel safe with easy access to shopping, food, entertainment, and transportation.
Accomplishing these goals require us to identify strategies that will make our commerce center more inviting, revitalize and expand our public facilities, increase public parking, encourage private wealth creation, and expand services for our most vulnerable residents.
The solutions to revitalization are found by following the proven process from other communities: build consensus among residents, businesses, landowners, and community leaders; develop a comprehensive strategic plan; and do the work necessary to implement the plan. Local business enclaves, like our downtown, are the backbone of Framingham’s economy, and it is critically important to help them sustain their existence.
The following actions taken together will set us on this pathway:
- Convene Blue Ribbon Commission to revitalize our municipal campus;
- Formalize Downtown Community Cares weekly working group;
- Remove billboards to further advance the beautification of downtown;
- Approve the Aggressive Solicitation Ordinance; and,
- Expand Opportunity Zone incentives into downtown.
These efforts will give all interested parties a voice at the table, assemble the resources necessary, and provide the structure to achieve our goal.
In addition, as our Mayor works with our partners in state government on plans for a new courthouse and youth center, parking facilities, and transportation improvements, we need to make a generational investment in our Municipal Campus that will feature a new municipal office building, and arts and culture center.
Our reconstituted Economic Development Corporation, reorganized municipal department, and the strategic use of grants and tax incentives will provide the tools and talent necessary to support and grow our local workforce. Lastly, we need to explore with local property owners the creation of a Business Improvement District and expand recreational and employment opportunities for our youth.
The best way to reinvigorate our diverse Downtown into the more vibrant commerce, culture and civic center we all desire is by listening to and engaging each other and working together as a team. As always, we look forward to our discussion on this matter.
The Council Rules Subcommittee has its first meeting on this topic this Thursday at 6 p.m. All voices are welcome.
John A. Stefanini is the District 8 Councilor.