Public shares ideas for revitalizing Cliftondale Square in Saugus

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Survey respondents identified lack of parking as the most important issue to be addressed in order to spur a revitalization of Cliftondale Square.

Cliftondale Revitalization Committee Chairman Joe Vecchione presented the results of a poll that was set up to solicit feedback on the challenges Cliftondale Square is facing and what people think should happen to improve the city center.

A total of 364 surveys were completed. Those who responded to the surveys identified them as the most critical issues facing Cliftondale Square: parking, lack of amenities, traffic and vehicle traffic alleviation, municipal / stakeholder inaction and lack of vision, storefronts under -used / unoccupied, pedestrian safety, cleanliness / rodent problems, dilapidated zoning, building stock and limited public transport.

Place Cliftondale in Saugus

Parking was “definitely” cited by survey respondents as the most significant issue in Cliftondale, as off-street parking is private property and the city would have to buy, lease or enter into an agreement with a private entity in order to use the available parking. a lot.

As an example, the Archdiocese of Boston has strongly encouraged the Cliftondale Revitalization Committee to look elsewhere to resolve existing parking issues, other than the parking lot at St. Margaret’s Church which is reserved for parishioners of the church.

In his presentation, Vecchione pointed out that no parking management plan is in place and that this leads to underutilized parking that does not meet the diversity of opening hours in Cliftondale.

Additionally, Vecchione noted that there is an opportunity for a public / private partnership with “ownership” and a lack of shared parking contributing to the perceived parking problems in the square.

Other takeaways from parking at Cliftondale Square are the non-existence of on-street parking with painted lines on Lincoln Avenue, resulting in inefficient use of existing spaces and a lack of enforcement for timed parking.

Over 80% of survey respondents responded that they would support the city’s potential purchase of a property to alleviate the perceived parking problem in Cliftondale.

Vecchione said he was very pleasantly surprised to see that the room in the MEG building was filled with more than 30 people – including the city planning department – and that there had been some engagement in the discussion.

“We have had a lack of civic participation in municipal affairs for years and seeing this participation has been an encouraging first step and validates this effort as worthwhile, despite its challenges that translate it into physical progress,” said Vecchione.

Infrastructure

Vecchione summarized the following survey responses regarding infrastructure in Cliftondale:

Most people think major realignments in circulation patterns are needed

Residents of Jackson Street have expressed concern about the potential diversion of traffic and the creation of a way to reduce congestion in the square and improve traffic and vehicle parking.

Most respondents believe that the sidewalks in the business district should expand to allow for sidewalk amenities or possibly small outdoor dining opportunities for future use in a restaurant

Many mentioned that heavy trucking via Cliftondale was a problem

There is an inbound and outbound traffic study on the impacts of traffic realignments, and potential sidewalk extensions and traffic calming measures were explored in 2018 to create a more efficient and effective rotary traffic model. clearly delimited

Some noteworthy survey results

Seniors (65 and over) generally feel that Cliftondale Square is not very safe

Many respondents prefer an additional police presence in the square

Almost every part of Cliftondale has been mentioned as a problem area for pedestrian safety

Attitudes towards allowing mixed use showed a strong generational divide, with respondents aged 18-34 favoring mixed use in Cliftondale, while middle-aged respondents were in favor of mixed use in Cliftondale. strongly oppose it

Most respondents did not prefer bike paths connected to the Northern Strand Community Trail, but those aged 18-34 (52%) were receptive to the idea of ​​bike paths

· Over 80% of respondents would support a storefront improvement program in which the city subsidizes a percentage of the cost of the work to encourage improvements in the downtown area.

People think the following uses should be allowed in Cliftondale: restaurant / bar / cafe / brasserie, independent shops, “anything”, housing, patio, pharmacy, hardware store, open / green space

When it comes to what should not be allowed in the square, these uses are at the top of respondents’ lists: marijuana dispensary, hair salons / nail shops, vape / smoking shops, industrial use, housing, banking, shops alcohols, post office

Ideas to improve the square

Survey respondents recommended the following actions as short-term improvements to Cliftondale Square: Increase trash, beautify, uniform signage, increased / more consistent enforcement of parking and speeding, make the authorization process a little easier, remove / replace the dead evergreens in the circle, Cliftondale seems leery of the town’s inclusion during the holidays (especially at Christmas), a promotional campaign with a weekly coupon sponsored by the companies to entice them residents to show up, repair damaged sidewalks, allow public art and murals, encourage pop-up markets, community events and outdoor shows.

As longer term improvements, respondents suggested:

Increase parking and organize more community events in the square

Make the square more accessible to pedestrians and pedestrians to give people a reason to go and stay

Allow three to four story units, such as condos with underground parking that also have commercial storefronts

· Find the “small town”

Bring green space for city events such as the 4th of July celebration

Make Cliftondale more like downtown Melrose or Wakefield

Revise traffic patterns for less congestion, put public services underground

Implement an accredited Main Street program with an active chamber of commerce and business community to create a vibrant mixed-use community, with new buildings of adequate size to accommodate the use of restaurants

Vecchione: the ‘Piecemeal’ approach will not work

One public forum participant mentioned that simply organizing people and vision can help accelerate physical results – a scenario Vecchione would like to see come to fruition.

“I think the city and private stakeholders are not as in sync as they should be to realistically tackle the issues that persist in Cliftondale, and have been for decades,” said Vecchione. “An organization of people (stakeholders, managers, planners, business owners, etc.) will facilitate the conversations and cooperation needed to overcome the proverbial ‘hurdle’ at Cliftondale.

Noting that all off-street parking in Cliftondale is privately owned, Vecchione suggested that formulating a public / private partnership should start with parking and find a way to logistically create a parking management plan.

A total of 174 off-street parking spaces exist which are underutilized and could potentially triple the parking capacity in Cliftondale if the lots are combined to create better vehicle entry and exit, Vecchione said.

“A piecemeal approach to this issue will not work as we have seen,” he said. “It’s really a conversation that needs to take place with all the stakeholders in the same room. In turn, the city must find a way to induce private owners to free themselves from ownership of their lots, whether underutilized or not, whether through zoning incentives, partial subsidy for facade improvements. , signage improvements or infrastructure improvements (for example, external grease traps). While there are a lot of issues to be addressed including accountability, ongoing maintenance, signage, metering / enforcement, and stakeholder involvement, I think the city should do its best and s ‘strive to achieve this substantial goal to finally get some traction at Cliftondale. This is the “red tape” that everyone told me about when this committee was formed. Nothing will be done unless we try to reduce this bureaucracy and it goes both ways; city ​​and stakeholder. And ultimately, both parties need to understand, while change is sometimes difficult to adapt, these changes will benefit businesses, stakeholders and the city as a whole and open up opportunities that are not currently available today. ‘hui. “

Next steps

Regarding next steps, Vecchione said passive intervention – which means waiting for something to save Cliftondale – is not sustainable.

The results of the investigation will be part of the committee’s report by November 1. The committee will meet again in late August or early September to start writing the final report, Vecchione said.

The results will be synthesized as well as the discussions at the community forum on June 28 and compared to previous studies on the square to provide recommendations on how to encourage and improve the existing business base to create a more vibrant Cliftondale square.

“In the meantime, we will continue to gather information, receive feedback, contact and discuss with stakeholders and city officials and seek short and long term opportunities,” Vecchione said.


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