By: Tracy Watson – April, 2010
Many months ago the Board of Selectmen tasked the Department of Public Works with the Main Street Improvement Project! This project began last year and was focused around improving the downtown business district along Main Street. This came on the heels of the Messina Family investing millions into their plaza, a focal point downtown, now referred to as First & Main Marketplace.
The improvement process emphasized the creation of a more conducive atmosphere for motorists, pedestrians and businesses as a whole. Part of the mandate was to design improvements to traffic flow, public safety, infrastructure, streetscape and public convenience. And as anyone who has recently visited downtown North Andover can attest, the changes and improvements are aplenty!
To date intersection re-alignments have already been completed, new sidewalks have been installed, green areas have been added, new catch basins have been installed, a new vehicle access entrance has been added to the Bradstreet School and sewers have been replaced as well. This spring the improvements continue!
By early June the Town hopes to have completed the final phases of this Improvement Project! All sidewalk repairs will be completed; new pavement and lines down Main Street as well as new crosswalks will be installed. These crosswalks will also offer bump-outs for decorative plantings. The consolidation of parking and traffic signs will be done and finally new signage welcoming folks to the downtown area will be put in place!
Bruce Thibodeau, Director of the DPW and Gene Willis, Town Engineer, as well as town staff have moved this project right along on schedule and on budget as well. This project was able to be completed through state Chapter 90 monies and all design work as well as construction over-sight has been done “in-house” saving the Town many thousands of dollars while still improving an important area of our community!
Along with all these improvements being made by the Town, business owners are also taking part in the process! The newly formed North Andover Merchants Association (NAMA) is quickly approaching ninety members and growing all the time. This association has really come together to work with and for our community. We all have the same goals in mind and fostering the relationship between business owners and community is good for our businesses and our community. A strong business climate makes for a strong and financially solid community.
Main Street business owners in particular are adding much charm and interest to our downtown area. After many years of vacant storefronts and limited amounts of visitors, this area of town has really begun to come to life again. Not only have many new businesses located on Main Street (Jane’s on a Budget, Fabulouz Findz, MelBro Laundry, etc.) but they are sprucing up their buildings too! Take a walk along Main Street and you will see fresh coats of paint, new decorative awnings, flower boxes and many other improvements. NAMA will be sponsoring a spring clean up of the Bradstreet School as well!
NAMA also has many other ideas in mind that will hopefully come to fruition! I along with NAMA members and Town Planner, Judy Tymon will be meeting during the month of April to begin discussions regarding a Farmer’s Market being brought to North Andover. Plans are very preliminary however our combined hope is to get this off the ground this year!
So as you can see it is a very exciting time for downtown North Andover! I would encourage you to come and see what Main Street has to offer! And as members of NAMA would say …stay local and shop locally!