Today’s Southbridge Evening News features a front page article titled “‘Compelling story’ needed for downtown development”.
Ted Carman of Concord Square Development, recently hired with state grant funds to do strategic financial planning necessary to make the town’s long-term downtown redevelopment effort possible, told the new Economic Development Commission:
…he saw the same thing in Greenfield, where several landlords made no effort to maintain property and some sat vacant for many years. Over the last five [years] or so, though, the city has used a variety of funding sources and sometimes eminent domain to renovate and re-tenant five major buildings, with four more still somewhere in the “ridiculously complicated” funding process, he said.
The article went on to note:
To EDC member Pete Cournoyer, the change in Greenfield has been significant. He said he visited it recently on the way back from Vermont. “It kind of feels like Northampton, only smaller and quieter,” he said.
Now, I found the choice of examples especially telling.
For years I have been arguing that if Southbridge is going to break out of the ongoing cycle of stagnation it needs a change in the structure of its municipal government. What we need is an elected mayor who would be a local resident. Such an executive would not only have a stake arising from being a resident of the community, but also the need to demonstrate measurable progress in order to secure reelection.