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Will Cultural District Give Downtown a Boost?

The supporters of a plan to earn state designation for the downtown say it could help downtown grow and thrive.

Hoping to boost tourism, encourage reuse of historical buildings and support Main Street businesses as well as local arts, the city will ask the state to designate the downtown village as a cultural district. 

The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to support an application to the Massachusetts Cultural Council seeking the district designation.

“This opens the door to state funding and doesn’t cost the city a dime,” said Randy Scott, owner of the. “I can’t see a good reason to say no.”

Districts are intended to “encourage Massachusetts communities to strengthen this sense of place, while stimulating economic activity, improving the experiences of visitors to our communities, and creating a higher quality of life,” the Cultural Commission says on its Website.

Mary Scott, coordinator of the Marlborough Downtown Village, said the designation is a logical next step in the evolution of downtown. A group of business leaders, property owners and organizations organizing two years ago to promote the downtown village concept. 

“The malls have changed the climate of downtown forever, but this is old news,” said Scott. The downtown is finding its own lifestyle niche, she added. New shops are opening regularly, a new theater group recently took space on Main Street and a pocket park recently opened on the site of a building fire. 

A fact-finding trip by members of the village association to Haverhill last summer proved an old adage is true, Scott added. “If you build it, they will come," she said. 

To qualify as a cultural district, an area must be distinct, walkable and dense with cultural offerings such as restaurants, art galleries, historical attractions and supporting businesses. 

If approved, Marlborough's would joint a handful of existing districts, including The Fenway Cultural District in Boston, Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Cultural District  and the Upstreet Cultural District in Pittsfield. 

What do you think? Should the downtown village become an arts and cultural center? Will people visit Marlborough to see historic sites and take in the culture? Let us know in the comments.

Scorpion June 07, 2012 at 11:46 AM
I'm sitting hear laughing after reading that they are naming the downtown ghetto infested with ILLEGAL Guatemalans, Brazilians and other trashy people a Cultural District. What a political way to cover up a problem that the City can't control . As I said before, Marlborough is the New Lawrence, or Brockton or New Bedford, so don't compare it to a cultural district in Gloucester.
DougS June 07, 2012 at 02:30 PM
If this isn't going to cost the city any money, I say why not? Sounds like this designation could attract new business.
Shelley Baker June 07, 2012 at 05:49 PM
I was surprised to learn recently that Main Street Cafe is no longer known as Bumpy's. Learning that fact was a good reminder that longtime residents like myself should support the City by spending more time in the downtown area.
Paul Bishop June 07, 2012 at 06:20 PM
The new little "park" where the fire was certainly is an improvement, I hope it remains upkept. Though small, I think it could be carried even further, with possibly a couple of Bistro tables along with the benches. Considering the designation is cultural, and discusses the history of the city, I wonder if one of the vacant stores (are there any right now?) might be turned into a temporary exhibition from the Historical Society. Depending upon the size, one could also easily add a small art gallery from local sculptors, painters, or even (grin) photographers.. Keeps the storefront active, promotes the whole idea, and just plain sounds like a good idea...
Tara Fritz June 13, 2012 at 01:01 PM
On Monday,June 11, right before A Taste of Marlboro, the Mayor announced that the beautiful little park that was created on Main Street is only TEMPORARY. The space was upgraded to help the owner sell it so a NEW building can be erected in it's place. So why the big ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication? This proposed new construction will create havoc for the downtown business owners via construction noise, less parking, construction barriers that will block access to some businesses and MORE! Imagine trying to have lunch at Welly's or Main Street Cafe with jackhammers blasting in the background! The existing park, however is a beautiful spot to sit and enjoy the day with family and friends. This is the only public space, on this section of Main Street. It could be the future home to many cultural events for downtown Marlboro !

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