August 7, 2005

‘Pedestrian Promenade Breathes New Life Into Downtown Medford (Ore.)”

So says the Mail Tribune, reporting on plans for "Evergreen Way," a "wide street next to the rail line that bisects downtown — once a 'gravelly scar through Medford' — [that] moves into its new incarnation as a pedestrian- and bike-friendly promenade for shoppers and downtown residents.

"The stretch of Evergreen between Sixth and Main streets, now 99 percent complete, will serve the shops and apartments of the old Acme Hardware building, both of which likely will create entrances on the new street."

There's been a $30 million investment in Medford's downtown renewal so far, including creating "the new street, head-in parking, 12-foot wide sidewalks, streetlights, trees and benches, creating a pedestrian walkway that will not be a through street, but will provide an environment for events like the Grower’s Market."

The Medford Urban Renwal Agency is offering business owners matching grants to spruce up their facades and otherwise orient their businesses toward the new greenway. For example, one restaurant owner has plans move one of its doors to front the new greenway, push out a back patio to the new street, set up sidewalk cafe tables and offer quick lunch service for pedestrians.

In Framingham, Mass., meanwhile, from what I hear, if a business even wants to have outdoor seating, it's an enormous hassle to try to get approval. Unfortunately, my guess is, if this was brought on the frambors e-mail discussion list, where many town activists discuss issues of the day, I'd get the same answer I seem to always read when someone dares mention that town rules may not be encouraging good development: Such-and-such committee did a lot of hard work coming up with bylaw [name]!! We were very thorough!! If you think there's a problem, change the rule!!


1) Thanks for all your efforts, truly I appreciate the many hours volunteers devote to town government. But I'm getting tired of hearing how hard everyone is working as the response whenever someone complains about something. That's what you sign up for when you choose to run for office (which I did for three years as a Framingham Town Meeting member and member of the TM Standing Committee on Planning & Zoning), it's a given. But you know something? It's possible to work very hard, and be very thorough, and still end up with a crappy result. "We worked very hard" is not an appropriate response to "something may be wrong here."

2) We have representative government so our representatives will represent us. That means they listen to our feedback, see the results of their actions, and adjust things accordingly, instead of telling us to do their work for them. That's how representative democracy is supposed to work. If every citizen is supposed to have to do the legislating, then Framingham shouldn't have representative Town Meeting, but should have open town meeting. But of course Framingham is too large to have open Town Meeting. (In my opinion, it's too large to have representatve Town Meeting as well, but that's a whole 'nother discussion.)


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