April 29, 2007

Framingham Seeks Walkable Community Workshop

"Framingham has applied to the Boston MPO to host a Walkable Community Workshop later this year to focus on Downtown Framingham," according to the agenda for this month's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting. This is good news indeed! I hope we get approved and the workshop comes to town.

I'd been hoping a couple of years ago we could get such a workshop, but couldn't find anyone interested then in applying for or sponsoring it. This is significant progress in realizing the urgency of a walker-appealing business district!

I know that some people feel "walkability" isn't the most pressing issue facing downtown Framingham. However, without a more appealing streetscape, it will be all but impossible to rejuvenate downtown. What would a walkable community mean? An environment that encourages people to walk from residences to shops, from the train station to homes and businesses, and from one destination to another. Waltham created one on Moody Street. We don't have that yet.

In my ideal world, the workshop would also focus on ways of integrating nearby Framingham State College into the immediate surrounding community, creating a walker-appealing neighborhood to draw students and professors off the campus. It's just nuts that we've got a state college in town yet nothing immediately around the campus catering to that community, without having to cross a dangerous Rte. 9 exit ramp and then go over a hideously unappealing footbridge --  that then dumps out onto some more traffic whizzing by from Rte. 30. Look what's around Wellesley College. Williams College. Harvard University. Can we not think of anything better to put adjacent to the Framingham State campus than a private ambulance office?

Also on the agenda at the FBPAC meeting: A review of the Downtown Visualization Project report released by Framingham Downtown Renaissance. The meeting is Tuesday, May 8, 7:30 at the Memorial Building.

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