Report presents recommendations for revitalizing Saugus’ Cliftondale Square

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A draft report offers a host of short- and long-term recommendations for revitalizing the business and housing district of Cliftondale Square.

Responsible for synthesizing previous studies from Cliftondale Square and making recommendations from a solutions-based perspective, the Cliftondale Revitalization Committee has produced a draft report for members to determine on January 17 whether or not to adopt as a report. final to be presented at the city meeting. .

Since its inception last spring, the committee has held three business meetings, a site walk in Cliftondale Square and a public forum.

Committee members analyzed various issues that could limit Cliftondale Square, including parking, security, underlying zoning, accessibility and an indifferent business community made up largely of absent owners.

“This committee was formed to challenge the idea that nothing can be done by dividing up every problem present in Cliftondale and explaining why the problems are present, then start building a vision for the region through a thorough zoning directive and a workable action plan with recommendations for short and long term projects and initiatives, ”the report reads.

As President Joe Vecchione’s report indicates, residents have expressed concern over the deteriorating physical environment of buildings in Cliftondale Square.

Many shoppers who have made Cliftondale Square a hub of commercial activity have ditched the area for retail offerings in other parts of the city and surrounding communities – many of whom have undergone revitalization efforts in the meaning of what the committee hopes to implement in Cliftondale, the report explains. .

“While officials are hopeful that the area can attract new businesses and housing, they have identified a number of real and perceived issues hindering this development, including restrictive zoning, parking and traffic issues, and a lack of a diverse mix of products. and the services offered on the site, ”the report reads. “In addition, many businesses are not open after 6 pm and many of these businesses do not adhere to opening hours and / or do not open during advertised hours. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, several businesses have closed their doors, some citing the pandemic’s problems and others for unrelated reasons. Additionally, many of these spaces remain vacant as of November 2021. These businesses include Tumble Inn Diner, Saugus Deli, Everything’s Hair, Lucey Travel, North Shore Bank, Webster First Federal Credit Union, and One Stop Market. In addition, many companies have not fully resumed their in-person services and have conducted some of their operations remotely. As a result, foot traffic, especially on weekends, was non-existent. Many of the business committee members they spoke to reported a decline in the number of customers since the start of the pandemic. “

The report describes how parking is clearly the most discussed issue in Cliftondale Square, with the committee agreeing that parking needs to be addressed holistically through the creation of a parking management plan that requires clear communication and public partnership. /private.

Additionally, the committee maintains that the city should be proactive if properties in Cliftondale become available to provide municipal parking.

“The city needs to work with these lot owners to create a parking and signage plan to help consolidate this parking lot and make it easier for people to identify and use existing spaces,” the report said. “On-street parking should be limited to intervals of between 15 minutes and two hours, to encourage the use of these spaces by customers and to discourage use by employees and business owners. The application of these programmed parking restrictions should be applied consistently to reinforce the illegal parking habits that have been dealt with by traders and neighbors throughout this process. “

Lots of recommendations

Long-term solutions will be needed to solve Cliftondale Square’s complex and multi-layered problems, the committee says, while short-term solutions can be used to pique the interest of residents and business district owners.

Long-term solutions are ultimately needed to address the complex, multi-layered problems in Cliftondale and will require both municipal and private investment, the committee found.

“This committee has mainly focused on what we can do at the municipal level to start alleviating the problems present in Cliftondale Square, but also understood that the implementation period would not be months, but several years,” indicates the report. “The committee members have mutually agreed that the public-private partnerships, which were previously present in Cliftondale, will ultimately be necessary to cross the threshold from superficial revitalization (beautification) to true revitalization (economic prosperity and dynamism). … tool to solve the problems of Cliftondale to entice private companies and landowners is a zoning overlay that will allow for optimal and optimal use of the plots of Cliftondale.

The committee supports the following short-term recommendations for Cliftondale Square:

  • Create a zoning overlay that enables “highest and best possible utilization” by implementing smart growth principles
  • Reform the association of traders or create a “Friends of Cliftondale” committee
  • Develop a parking management plan
  • Create a signage plan
  • Bring back Appreciation Day, a popular event in decades past that can aid marketing efforts in the square, redirect and bring people back to the square, respond to the deep nostalgia present in many longtime residents and raise awareness of the work that is needed and the opportunities that exist in this neighborhood.
  • Move the Farmers Market Now to Anna Parker Playground in Cliftondale Square
  • Marking Cliftondale Square as its own place and marketing the area as a ‘booming’ neighborhood, especially following the potential adoption of zoning, can help attract businesses, developers, consumers alike. and potential residents in Cliftondale.
  • Set up a facade / shop window improvement program
  • Capitalize on connections to the Northern Strand cycle path
  • Invest in beautifying and cleaning Cliftondale
  • Connect more effectively with Cliftondale stakeholders
  • Encourage public art and create a program of “Blank Wall” murals
  • Ensure increased public safety at targeted times
  • Look for opportunities to create temporary places. As a healthy business mix will take some time, especially if a zoning overlay is adopted and new development takes place, there are opportunities to create interim temporary places such as food trucks, pop-up restaurants, or ghost kitchens. using the vacant space and hosting more events in or near Cliftondale Square rather than Saugus Center will help ease foot traffic and bring people to Cliftondale as it would offer something that is not present in any other part of Saugus.

What to do in the long term?

Long-term recommendations the committee supports include:

  • Provide infrastructural and permanent aesthetic improvements to encourage the development of the “downtown”
  • Build a municipal parking lot or parking garage
  • Refine traffic patterns using MassDOT regulations
  • Establish a Business Improvement District (BID) or implement District Improvement Fund (DIF)
  • Establish Cliftondale as a ‘main streets’ program, as Main Streets America is an organization that could foster revitalization as an entity dedicated to the rehabilitation of neighborhoods, downtowns and main streets
  • Create a city-owned multipurpose open space that could host a number of events like a farmer’s market, vacation walk, art installation, cultural performance, outdoor movie, outdoor cafe, live music, food trucks, etc.

The committee also recommended that the city take legislative action to create a zoning overlay that allows projects that achieve the highest and best use for properties to be permitted in Cliftondale Square. The report suggests guidelines that could be followed in establishing such a zoning overlay for the neighborhood, including potential permitted uses, density / size regulations, parking rules and design standards.

To view the full committee draft report, go to https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CLXFD2NAlcmVzVSFRZ75Z8mtTjO7JGmm/view

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