January 6, 2005

Millis Eyes Library Expansion, More Walker-Friendly Downtown

"Town officials in Millis are moving forward with plans for a revitalized town center that would be anchored by a new police station and a new library almost four times the size of the current one," the Boston Globe reports today.

"Officials are scrambling to line up grant money and approval from voters for the revitalization project, which would also include changes to Main Street buildings with the goal of creating a lively and attractive shopping area. "

Unlike Framingham and Natick, where many officials still seem to favor the same tired car-first approach of plunking a building way back from the road amidst a sea-of-asphalt parking lot (like the Natick Mall expansion and plans for a Lowe's on Rte. 30), Millis officials are trying to urge local businesses to move up closer to the street, even offering town-owned land for parking.

"By moving parking to the rear of the buildings, officials are hoping to avoid the strip mall appearance that many towns nowadays are trying to shed," the article notes. Many, but not yet all.

As nearby towns make themselves more attractive destinations, those overseeing the "Golden Triangle" need to understand that we're just at much at risk today by ignoring consumer trends -- like new pedestrian-friendly "lifestyle centers" -- as urban downtowns were a generation ago when they ignored the rise of clean, convenient malls.

Remember how local minicomputer companies like Digital, Data General and Prime prospered by coming up with a new product to beat conventional mainframe computers .... only to lose out and fade away when the NEXT trend, the personal computer, came along? This is the threat we face if our planners think the car-centric solutions that worked in the '60s and '70s are our best approach in the 21st century.

No comments:

Post a Comment