June 26, 2005

Randolph Zones For A Walkable Business District With A Sense Of Place

''We are looking at creating a walkable, pedestrian-friendly downtown and not a cement, automobile-driven strip of fast-food restaurants, banks, and liquor stores."

--Michelle Tyler, member of Randolph's Master Plan Implementation Committee

Randolph Town Meeting recently approved a zoning change that would allow creation of a business district that would keep out "formula" fast-food chains, gas stations, and " other businesses that local leaders deem out of keeping with their vision of the downtown as Randolph's civic hub," the Boston Globe reports.

Town officials stress that they don't want to ban such businesses. However, they want control over the sense of place of the heart of downtown, and believe such businesses are a better fit just outside the town center.

At first glance, it looks like these officials understand that great downtown business districts don't simply happen by getting all the neighborhood storefronts rented. Someone needs to have a vision as to proper mix of retail and other businesses, and look & feel to encourage people to stroll and stay.


  1. Hmmm...sounds great...except that already within walking distance of Randolph Square, you have: Burger King, McDonalds, Wendy's, CVS, Walgreens, Blockbuster...I could go on but I forget the rest. So what's left? It's easy to say no when there is little left to say no to.

    Plus, we'll see what the Board of Selectmen do next time something comes up. They tend to have a mind of their own, much like Framingham :-).

  2. Sharon GartenbergJune 27, 2005 at 12:02 AM

    Yes, good point. However, I think it's a mistake to throw up your hands and give up on good zoning, just because things have been done poorly before. Framingham made that mistake when Shoppers World was rebuilt. Over the following 10-15 years, many of the strip malls nearby were overhauled as well. Had Shoppers World been better designed and well anchored, and zoning required the other malls to be better sited, the commercial area along Rte. 30 would be so much better than it is now. It may take half a generation, a generation or more to undo what's been done; but if you never start, you never get any improvements.