June 13, 2008

Framingham and the river

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.


  1. Although there are some concerns over building along a river (i.e. all the flooding) clearly the creation of a riverwalk system is boon to each city that has create one. Here in Milwaukee the city has been working with private developers and has connected much of the downtown with the riverwalk. And now outdoor cafes are starting to spring up along the river in certain districts. Clearly it has a long way to go but yes that is a great way to utilize the river.

  2. Good news, Sharon, the old State Lumber site along the Sudbury River in Saxonville will hopefully soon be reborn with some of the amenities you mention. The owner of the property is planning on developing the property into mixed retail and commercial space.

    But more significantly, the plan includes plenty of green space, including a pocket park along the riverfront on the Concord Street side of the property, including benches, landscaping, a bike rack, water fountain, etc.

    Owner Tony Kwan gave a presentation at the Friends of Saxonville annual meeting in April, complete with architectural plans, and it looks like a really interesting re-use of what has been a pretty underutilized section of the village for years. He is supposed to go before the town, and if approved, get the project going later this year.

  3. Thanks, Brett. That *is* good news! I'd heard rumors of that parcel being redeveloped for a couple of years now. Glad to hear that it might actually happen! I'll have to keep an eye out for when he might be going before the town, would love to be at the public meeting!