Saugus Director of Planning and Economic Development Christopher Reilly says the town needs to do a better job in promoting Cliftondale Square.
“Cliftondale has not been adequately defined in order to brand and market a distinct area,” Reilly wrote in his recommendations to the Cliftondale Revitalization Committee. Reilly submitted recommendations in late September, at the request of the committee. His list of comments were incorporated in a draft copy of the “Final Report of the Cliftondale Revitalization Committee,” which was issued this week.
Reilly’s recommendations for revitalizing Cliftondale also included the following:
–There are a number of small public and private parcels in Cliftondale that could accommodate accessible public parking. Until some adequate long-term parking capacity is achieved, I recommend approaching private property owners about lot split opportunities and investigating improvements on public land to incrementally increase existingsupply.
–Discussion with the Health Director has placed the installation of full grease trap systems as required for restaurants at about $10,000. The Town should develop an informational permitting guidance template and consider tax increment financing (TIF) for such desirable uses so they can be appropriately marketed and recruiting.
–The Town is investing grant money in Cliftondale, such as the Microenterprise Program. The Town has found that the subscription to these resources has been subdued. Care and attention should be provided to the marketing andimplementation of any future grant programs that may be utilized in Cliftondale in order to get more effectiveparticipation.
–The long-term provision of multi-purpose open space in Cliftondale, which is deemed desirable, depends on major redesign and relocation of existing infrastructure and the roadway layout. Assuming an anticipated master plan process provides recommended alternatives, the Town should be prepared to implement public works improvements on land it controls to create more centralized multi-purpose space.
The infrastructure funds expected by the latest federal legislation will likely provide up to $1 million in discretionary allocations for a wide variety of individual projects. The Town should anticipate this level of funding and be prepared to capitalize on it.
–Street festivals that close public ways on a limited, short term basis are effective tools in promoting downtowns and local merchants. There are companies that work with Towns to organize, market, and manage these events. The Town should put an RFQ out to try and attract prospective event managers.
–The streetscape of Cliftondale needs major improvements, which include design standards for private signs and facades. As the Town proceeds with any planning effort for the area permanent public realm improvements should be considered and where practical provided, including landscape, lighting, and pedestrian amenities.
This should include a central public information kiosk to attract and inform local businesses and events.
–As a long-term strategy, zoning incentives to promote redevelopment investment and mixed use will be needed to provide a sustainable and vibrant environment in Cliftondale well into the future. Recommendations will be provided by the Master Plan update and any planning efforts that follow, but there is no substitute for best practices that already exist.
–The Town should model zoning incentives on successful outcomes in surrounding Towns and plan on a scale and program that is proven and achievable.