June 15, 2004

Nobscot: Not So Walkable

"The closing of a Nobscot grocery store and the area's lack of sidewalks makes a planned 150-unit, low-income building for senior citizens less appealing, a Zoning Board member said last night," the MetroWest Daily News reports.

"Countryfare Star closed last week and town officials may be called in to help secure land for a sidewalk, making Shillman House a tougher sell for older folks than originally planned, said ZBA member Susan Craighead."

" 'Without sidewalks, things are not within walking distance,' she said. 'It was tough for me to walk (from the planned location to the area shops).' "

I know the ZBA meeting was focused on the JCHE's proposed 150 units of affordable housing, but there's something painfully obvious here that needs to be pointed out: There are already apartments and elderly housing units in Nobscot. The area desperately needs sidewalks, withor without the JCHE units.

Whatever store ends up going in to replace Countryfare Star, that shopping center also could really use a design that makes it more pedestrian-appealing and less for-cars-only.

The same goes for the Pinefield shopping center, by the way, where there is a sidewalk on one side of the street, but to get from the sidewalk to the stores means going through what feels like a mile of asphalt. Why isn't there a halfway appealing walkway from the sidewalk to the shops? There may be a chance to fix this, if a new library building really gets built across the street from the existing McAuliffe branch.

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