One of the major missed opportunities in Framingham was not leveraging the presence of the Sudbury River into our residential and commercial development patterns. It's easy to spend hours in the Saxonville commercial district and not even notice the nearby river; you have to know about it in order to walk around and behind various buildings to get to the little park near the mill, or to find the Carol Getchell nature trail.
Contrast that with, say, Waltham, where there are obvious walking paths along the river from the heart of the business district, and where restaurants and housing were built to take advantage of being riverfront. Instead, we've got things like a car rental lot blocking views at one of the prime pieces of riverfront commercial real estate in Saxonville. Sigh. Hopefully, someday the old Saxonville Lumber site can be redeveloped to take better advantage of the nearby river. Outdoor cafe seating overlooking the water, anyone?
Meanwhile, if you long for the river to be better integrated into our community (as I do), we've got Riverfest! 2008 this weekend. Framingham activities include a historic Saxonville walking tour Saturday at 1, an easy canoe trek from Framingham Centre to Saxonville Sunday at 10, and a bird walk along the Carol Getchell Nature Trail Sunday at 7 am.
Other nearby Riverfest activities include Concord River pontoon boat tours in Bedford, Assabet River Walk in Concord, Concord River Paddle (Bedford), History Paddle (Wayland), free canoe rides on the Sudbury River (Southborough), Twilight Canoe (Lincoln), rubber duck race (Sudbury) and lots more. The full listing of activities is here.