GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

July 6, 2013

The Mayor's Desk: Input needed for downtown's future

The work that goes into building a great downtown is never complete.

Gloucester has accomplished a great deal in downtown in recent years, including restoration of City Hall, sidewalk and infrastructure improvements, an increase in retailers, and a bustling music and dining scene. But there are still many more opportunities downtown.

In the coming months, the City will host three “downtown visioning” meetings and we need the community’s input. Please join us at City Hall on Wednesday for the first meeting, where residents, businesses, and other stakeholders will discuss downtown Gloucester’s strengths, weaknesses and future.

The visioning series is a fundamental part of writing the next chapter in the ongoing development of downtown Gloucester. By listening to public opinion on what makes downtown attractive to residents and visitors, as well as to understand what residents would like to see in the future, the City can identify resources that advance the area as a place where residents come to shop, play, work and live.

When most people think of downtowns, they picture many things, including restaurants, storefront retailers, entertainment, and bustling pedestrian traffic. Downtowns are where people go to “do” and to “be.” Great downtowns like Gloucester’s blend the excitement of the new with the comfort of the familiar.

Although it is everyone’s downtown, approximately 30 percent of the city’s 28,000 residents actually live in the greater downtown neighborhood. This large residential base is part of our heritage.

Whether on Portuguese Hill or Commonwealth Avenue, as the city developed people built their homes close together and were able to walk downtown and to the waterfront for work and shopping. The dense housing stock and walkable neighborhood contribute to our Downtown’s vibrancy.

Of course, the flip side of a densely populated downtown area means that any future changes downtown will impact a large segment of the community.

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