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At the January 21, 2003 Town Meeting, Northbridge residents approved a parking plan that would increase parking spaces behind the Main Street buildings between the Aubuchon Hardware and the long-vacant Pythian building. This would enhance the downtown and bring life back into the businesses. Efforts from local citizens, the Downtown Advisory Group, and the Northbridge administration have been ongoing for over twelve years to secure a series of CDAG (Community Development Action Grants) that have already been used to upgrade Rockdale's streetscapes and add safety bumps to slow down drivers and increase pedestrian use.
This second phase, approved by a majority of voters, has been received well by most townspeople and landowners who have granted easements behind the Main Street stores, but one owner is unsure that this is a viable plan or acreage he wants to lose. Tom Tsimoginnis, owner of two parcels is still waivering in his agreement for an easement, but active volunteers who have worked to effect this increased parking and streetscape upgrades state that the plan will go forward to create up to 75 parking spaces rather than the 120 initially planned. Hopes are that Tsimoginnis will allow access, but no pressure has been placed on the landowner and the plans can be adjusted.
This could mean an adjustment to the State's $1.4 million CDAG grant, too, but town officials and volunteers understand the need to work with local landowners, not roll over them.
The Whitinsville area had been declared a "blight zone" by State officials following federal guidelines, therefore, grant money was available. Multiple grants (CDAG and CDBG Community Development Block Grant) have been piggy-backed into these projects to also bury the utilities underground to improve the aesthetics of the area before the increased parking plan and streetscape work will follow. New granite curbs, ornamental lighting, new sidewalks and paving will follow the creation of the parking spaces which is expected to start soon.
In February 2003, a Community Workshop was held for the streetscape project with goals of a Spring construction start with completion expected by Fall of 2003. It is DONE! The Downtown Advisory Group has distributed a newsletter using no public funds and firstname.lastname@example.org can provide more information.