This blog is all about the historic village center of Bolton, Massachusetts. It is for village residents, town residents, and all those who simply love Bolton.

There are potential changes in the wind that could significantly alter the character of our town center. It is a pivotal moment. Communication is vital and so this blog is offered as a vehicle to share information and exchange views regarding the future of this unique and wonderful New England place. We hope you will find it informative, engaging, thought provoking. We hope you will find it useful for both facts and opinion. And we hope you will be both a regular reader and a contributor.

One of the primary focus areas here will be the disposition of the property associated with the former gas station/garage owned and operated for years by the Smith family. This is prime vacant space (8+ acres) in the very heart of the village. What happens with this property will go a long way toward determining what our village (and our town) will be like in ten or twenty years. And while activity relating to this property is the impetus for this blog, we will also encourage a broader conversation about the future of the historic center and the town as a whole—about sustainability, the location and distribution of commercial activity in town, the economics of commercial and residential development, historic preservation, and about community needs and desires.

So let’s start this conversation right here, right now.


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43 Responses to Hi.

  1. CBO says:

    Happy to have this place to share thoughts, since things are moving quite quickly and a lot of people seem unaware of the extreme nature of the proposed changes.

  2. Tom kittler says:

    Towards the end of he meeting a previously unmentioned/unlisted easement to the Callahan property was mentioned. Do you have an info on said property? What other access is there to it? A drawing of the two properties relationships would be interesting.

    • boltoncenter says:

      You are correct. During the BoS meeting, Dave Drugge said that Don Smith had granted an easement to the Callahan property, which is one of the landlocked parcels located behind the Smith property. A graphic showing the abutters to the rear will be posted shortly, but we’re not sure exactly where the easement is. Check back soon.

  3. Joe Myerson says:

    Nice job!

    I would suggest that it might be nice to see if this blog could expand a bit, to provide more news and opinions of Bolton residents in general, rather than just those of us who live in the town’s historic center.

    Our town needs some kind of forum for news and analysis. When I moved to Main Street in 1983, we had the “Bolton Citizens News,” a free monthly newsletter that went to every householder. It wasn’t terribly sophisticated (I was editor for a while, so I know), and its monthly format meant that a lot of news was old before it was published. But that was before the advent of the blog.

    Anyway, I those of us who are reading your blog should try to publicize it to the rest of the Bolton community.

    Just some thoughts from an old, out-of-work former newspaperman.

    –Joe Myerson

  4. al ferry says:

    While travelling in Maine I happened to find an unsecured wifi and noticed this. Having been to almost all related board meetings, I’ve the most commonly appalling thing is the scale of the buildings, so a suggestion would be to quickly propose to Planning & Selectmen to limit any new commercial buildings to 15000 sq ft except by 2/3 of Town Meeting. -Al

    • boltoncenter says:

      The Planning Board is indeed exploring the possibility of proposing a village center center overlay district that could both allow and restrict mixed-use in the district, according to tables of use, dimensional requirements, and design guidelines. Square footage is certainly one of the factors that could be at play. Imagine this: a 30,000 s.f. grocery store, as is being proposed, is nearly 7 times the size of Town Hall (4,500 s.f.).

  5. Carol Sweeney says:

    Thank you to the folks who talk the time and effort in putting up a site like this to keep the town informed and give us a place to share our views.

    I think in these tough economic times, it seems a bit counterproductive to open up another shopping center. All the surrounding towns and communities have all the shopping and dining to accommodate our needs. Bolton seems to work the way it is; if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Please.

  6. Sharon Mandell says:

    Everyone would like to see a tasteful project built on the Smith site. It is the heart of our town and what is built there should be very crefully considered. One builder had been contemplating a town green with small shops and possibly some townhouses, creating a New England village feel, but he declined to go forward. I cringe at a large supermarket in that space, and whatever else might follow. Many people I know are happy shopping at surrounding markets – isn’t not having a market with its traffic and large asphalt parking lot part of what distinguishes Bolton, Harvard and Lancaster from other towns around? – what happens to this big retail space if a market fails? There are other ways to increase tax revenue without forfeiting our rural identity. I would rather have an empty garage there than something really commercial and out of character and scale with the rest of our lovely town.

  7. RTC says:

    Putting the traffic and other issues aside, is there any information as to how much tax revenue this will bring into Bolton? Who will benefit from the tax revenue, the residents? The schools? Police, Fire Department?

    Personally speaking, I don’t see the need for a large drug store or a large supermarket. I guess I’ve gotten used to having to drive a little to get to these types of stores. The restaurant idea is nice. How about a GOOD coffee shop?

    • boltoncenter says:

      This is an excellent question (tax benefit of commercial activity) and thank you for bringing it up. I’m sure this will be the subject of future posts on this blog. I do know that the Economic Development Committee is looking at this now and we will be very interested in following that. I also know that the Town of Bolton Master Plan of 2006 looked at this too and found very mixed reports from the half dozen studies they reviewed. This conclusion from the Master Plan of 2006: “We could not find one [study] that supported the belief that modest commercial property growth can be a significant (>5%) contributor to tax revenue.” One of the studies they looked at went so far as to conclude: “The data show that commercial development has little effect on tax rates, and a negative effect on property values.”

  8. Barbara Bing says:

    I’m confused …
    In his presentation to the Economic Development Committee on June 7, 2010, Dave Drugge stated that the biggest structure in his proposed plan would be 8,000 -11,000 square feet. The chart presented at the Selectmen’s meeting on July 8 (the chart pictured on this blog) shows a grocery store that is 30,000 square feet — i.e. 3/4 the size of Hannaford’s in Hudson!

    • boltoncenter says:

      Personally, I’m not too surprised. My sense is that these plans are being worked and re-worked quite a bit during this early phase. The first plan I saw appeared to show several more buildings than the current plan shows, but had fewer parking spaces. That early plan showed a grocery of 15,000-25,000 square feet. It also showed, by the way, a secondary entrance/exit that ran through the parking lot of the Houghton Building. Gone in the latest iteration. I had heard at one point that the grocery store (“market”) was, 1) downsized to a smaller kind of market, and then 2) was taken out altogether. Neither now appears to be the case.

      On the one hand, I can understand how fluid these plans will be in this early stage….on the other hand it makes it easy for a developer to make multiple and conflicting representations as to what the plans really are.

  9. Nick says:

    Things to think about and look at from a positive prospective concerning the possibility of a new mall in Bolton Center:
    For this to happen permits need to be granted but the Board of Selectman could grant a ‘qualified’ permit allowing the shopping plaza/mall under the following qualifications (these are just suggestions):

    1. The Entrance to the mall (off of Main Street) would only be ‘One Way’ and the Exit would only be ‘One Way’ at the back of the mall to reduce the congestion in the center of town (especially during the rush hours).
    2. The ‘Sign’ for the Mall on Main Street should be ‘colonial’ style (not too big -BOS will dictate the size and material (I prefer a ‘wood’ based sign) with the name of the Mall at the top of the sign and the names of the companies inside the Mall displayed as one line only (no colors, TMs or Logos – just the name of the company and all of their names will be in the same size font) in the body of the sign. This sign will have spot lights only (maximum of 2 on each side) and can only be on during the shopping Mall hours (suggest no later than 11 pm).
    3. The one way entrance should be bordered by two colonial size (tbd by the BOS) office buildings that face Main Street with at least a 30 foot set back from the road and a grass, tree and shrub front with just a walkway from Main Street and ‘All’ parking will be at the back of both buildings (this space could be sold or rented – for a medical clinic which the town could ‘really’ use, accounting firm, law firm, real estate office, etc. but not for ‘retail’ space).
    4. Additionally, the one way entrance should be lined with trees, shrubs and the rest with grass and/or flowers on both sides for at least 300 feet (the length of a football field) and ‘Permanently’ Zoned to not allow any kind of a building (except possibly for a building to access underground utilities). Logically, the septic for the two office buildings (mentioned in number 3 above) could be in the grassed area behind the parking lots for the office buildings.

    These requirements would help keep the historic and aesthetic quality of the center of Bolton much more than an ‘Empty’ Gas Station sitting smack in the center of town which is really not that pretty to look at… Plus, the Mall partners should be responsible for cleaning up any environmental things they find underground on the Smith property and the other properties where the mall construction would take place.

  10. Linda Skinner Austin says:

    Firstly, the use of the word “mall” in relation to Bolton is nauseating to me!! I was brought up here and am lucky to be living back in Bolton and raising my family here. We have much to be grateful for and I realize that we need more of a commercial tax base if we expect services to continue and don’t want to go broke. BUT most of us who moved here came here because of the rural character … farms, animals, etc. If we wanted malls, we would be gone elsewhere. There are other existing properties in Bolton that could provide commercial business space … that are also on Route 117 … ah hem, the old Skinner Inc. building for one … and that would not require so much work to develop … traffic problems, environmental issues, etc. I think it would be a terrible eye-sore to put anything resembling a “mall” anywhere near the center of Bolton. I’ll leave the details to others … just one resident’s opinion!

  11. Bad Decision All Around says:

    The beauty of Bolton is its New England Charm, its people and its proximity to everything else. Everyone shops elsewhere and one shopping center won’t satisfy the needs of the residents. We like going somewhere else for services because it keeps volume of issues down. Before the town goes and approves this plan it should look at the occupancy history of the other little complex in town. It was on the market recently. The town can’t support a business plan for a big grocery store which means as soon as it opens it will be empty. There is small retail store and building that have been empty for several years as well. This is a bad long term decision for the town. Think urban renewal from the late sixties and seventies. It killed a lot of beautiful towns.
    Burden on fire and police
    Lower property values in downtown
    Shopping plaza in Stow needed to install a micro waste treatment plant to support tenants (take a drive there)
    Hurts existing business (country store)
    Short term $$ revenue stream for the town
    We can run in for milk or forgotten purchases from our favorite stores (now we go to the country store)
    This should be a public and private partnership to establish a town center that is vibrant and alive with coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, boutique stores, liquor store etc. We could also use a town center for summer concerts and other events that we usually close 117 for, heck lets include a playground so that I can enjoy that coffee while I watch my kids play. This all connects the idea to the ice rink we have in front of the school. I think this is a great idea, because I’m sure I’m the first to think of it. (smile) I would be willing to discuss further.
    While we are at it lets implement an town beautification ordnance and a get some involvement from the historical society. Let’s not get bamboozled by these developers We have to live with what they leave behind.

    This is just one perspective of concerned resident and businessman

  12. Karen says:

    Thanks for starting this discussion. I had NO idea this was going on. Our family is considering an addition on our house, and we don’t live far from bolton center. I think I might drag my feet a bit. I don’t want to live anywhere near this mall and it’s traffic. Traffic on our street is dangerous enough as it is.

    My concerns:

    How do the established businesses in town feel about a grocery store this size being built? Bolton orchards, Bolton spring farm, the winery…

    What about traffic on feeder streets? Wattaquodoc rd, Berlin rd, s. Bolton rd, Manor Rd, Harvard rd?

    What about that new public safety building we just built? Would it be adequate to support a commercial center this large? Is it obsolete before it’s even finished?

    How does a giant grocery store and pharmacy do anything to preserve the rural character of our town? How does it increase the walkability of our town? From what I’ve read it’ll decrease both.

    Our growing family is at a crossroads, and this might just be the push we need (but don’t want) to move out of town. And that puts a giant lump in my throat. We like it here. How it is now.

  13. David Drugge says:

    What we have here is not a mall?? Where did that come from? When I first started with this project I thought how nice would it be to have some services that we could use as residents of this town. How about a pediatrician, a place to have coffee and breakfast, eye care, family medical, a pharmacy, space for an art gallery, small shops that can support one another. Office space that is handicap accessible, look around small office that is handicap accessible does not exist in this town, a town center to walk and enjoy. Rolland was right we did scale the site down and it will still need to be tweaked as we move forward. If there is to be a market 30K sq.ft. may be too big, but this is something that we as residents can be part of, with design guide lines it can fit in with the character of our town.
    We are working with Arrowstreet on this project, which you will find in your research is one of the top architects around. if you look closely we have designed the parking areas away from open lots, but to shade and buffer them to blend in.
    The open space that exists in Bolton is large corporate space which we are not competing with, but I do feel that when we build our space Bolton will have more to offer in services for the corporations that may consider Bolton.
    I live in town some of you know me as a coach with youth sports both boys and girls, or as the assistant building inspector, and will be very accommodating to anyone who wishes to discuss this project. People who want real answers and facts email me or stop me and ask questions and tell me of your concerns.
    I was told the other night from someone in the audience that I should be ashamed for threatening the citizens of MY town with a 40B,?? that never come from me or the group I have the privilege of working with.
    What I did say was that I knew what could happen to that property if someone else bought it! And as a tax payer in this town I’d rather see business than more school enrollment, that I did say.

  14. Bad Decision All Around - I'm willing to change this headline says:

    How does this business plan and services concept differ from the property currently owned by the Plante family that is up for sale on 117? How about the complex across from Clinton Saving that is usually empty. With availability of space in the surrounding town what would attract businesses to Bolton when our tax rate ($17.61) is through the roof? I absolutely agree that something of a town center with services and amenities would bring life to Main Street and make it more attractive to residents. The character of the town must be reflected in the design and thinking. I haven’t seen anything online or otherwise for me to believe that these things are taken into consideration. Mr. Drugge as some one that has volunteered/worked for the town (which is greatly appreciated) you should be able to identify to your partners what the negatives are for the residents and impact on services and general feelings.

    What I would like to see happen is the town purchase the land and provide development rights to BC LLC to develop and manage under guidelines provided by the town and residents. The Smith property is or was on the market for somewhere around $1.2 Million. I could be wrong. If the price is correct and based on the number of taxable properties in Bolton of 2309 for this past year that would be about $520 per household or about a $1.40 per day for one year period. Town gives the residents tax relief for this $520 equal to $1000 and residents fund the purchase.
    Crazy idea but this way the residents and town control the development of this land. Smiths want their money, town needs a great and vibrant center, BC LLC needs a project to sink their teeth into. Everyone wins. Revenue for the town and BC LLC residents are happy.

    • David Drugge says:

      We have thrown that concept around but until we know the scope of the cleanup it would only be a guess as to the value. The property was listed for 1.7 taking into consideration of the cost of the cleanup. The town common could be deeded back to the town and a partnership is not totally out of the question. The residents input has a value to me as well as the partners, the design of this town center village should stand out as a model for all small towns coping with growth, and a need for limited business to help offset our tax burden.
      I can understand every ones concern I have lived it… with 495 cutting through our property with out any say in the matter, of course I was in first grade at the old Emerson building.
      With our project it is a little different, for now we all have a say in the design, size of the buildings, look at the library and its size at first most thought it was too big for our town now it is one of our jewels. Why can’t Bolton Crossing be the same? Remember the first thing Roger said it is only preliminary and your input is welcome, but to be honest with you I never dreamed it would be this negative, with information thrown out there to see what sticks.
      The other night some one brought up property values falling if the site is developed?? What about the contamination, and what does that do for the values? The cleanup and a thoughtful and well designed village I think will add to the values.

      David Drugge

  15. Dave Wylie says:

    Remember the old photo exhibit the Historical Society put on? One 1900 shot was the corner of Main and Harvard. Showed the same house at the corner, and a planted triangle in the middle of the intersection. Main Street was gravel! A century spans five generations, on the average. Compare what earlier generations have done to other towns with what our Bolton predecessors achieved. When you inherit something of special value, a moral/ethical/intellectual obligation goes with it – to the past, to the future, to the society and civilization you reside in and influence. Easy to say, things have to change – sure, but change to make more beautiful, more instructive, more inspiring, or to insist on conformity with the degraded standards of Roadtown U.S.A.?

  16. Big E says:

    Well, I think it would be nice to get rid of the eye sore of the Smith Property. I feel Dave who has lived in the town for many years will create the best possible use of this property and make it fit in our Town. I dont believe calling the center of Bolton a village is correct, it has a highway through the middle of it and is not the ideal place to live. Any additional tax relief to our residents would be welcome, not suggesting putting a Walmart in but I think shops and small office space is good for our town.

    I dont think we need Bolton to buy this property and get involved. We have spent large amounts of money lately and are driving home tax rates through the roof. I think we let the plans play out give suggestions to the developers because it is rare but they are listening, most would have just bought this property and done what they wanted to make the most profit. People need to open there eyes there are more than 2000 families in town and everyones opinions are not the same. Dave should be commended for protecting the town from the outside builders who doesnt care what any of us think and taken this challenge on in these tough economic times hopefully when it is completed the tides will have turned and the businesses in town will all thrive and work together.

  17. Stephen Bing says:

    Please see my comment listed under ” so what’s the fuss.”
    Steve Bing

    • David Drugge says:


      I did read your comment and my initial reaction was that someone throwing stuff against the wall and hope it stuck… but I read it again and have tried to put myself in your position in front of the key board with questions regarding the property across the street.
      First I would like to make something clear… nobody and I mean nobody would take on this project with the contamination, and the zoning issues, and main street traffic with out the finical backing to follow this or any other project through. Were these questions asked when the Centery Mill estates was planned, close to one hundred homes I’m sure they had a well planned cost and return and the finical back bone to move ahead and are moving ahead.
      I can understand you all need to see the faces and you have in Roger Sherman, The firm of Arrowstreet is one of, if not the best in the business. This project is and will be well funded, I will ask for more information to present to the public on projects that have been built and some that are on the board. With the climate we are in now no one will build on spec after a contaminated cleanup and without the majority of town residents, and town approval.
      I would like to walk the site with anyone and discuss in detail where and how we plan on recovering this site into the town center it could be.

      And just a quick note on Rich’s comment, why can’t the farms of Bolton use our site as well as their own to sell and show their produce. It might be a little difficult for the Townsend farm. It does have good exposure? Just a thought. Bolton Crossing


      • A town for the People by the People - Formerly Bad decision all around says:

        I have read the many comments on this blog. I want to stress, that I’m not against the idea of doing something with this land that benefits the current residents and also those who will want to buy our houses when we decide to retire to our condo’s in FL, Carolina’s or the likes. Well, I don’t have one yet and I’m sure the tax benefits from this development aren’t going to get me there either. A vibrant downtown is crucial to current and future residents alike for the additional services and I stress additional services because I have no interest in hurting our neighbors that are currently doing business in town.
        Residents shouldn’t be scared of the term brownfield (we are not talking GE, Exxon, or BP disasters) because BC LLC and Mr. Drugge aren’t scared by the term and they have done relevant research on the contamination to know that the dirt can be remediated ( http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-land-remediation.htm ). BC LLC will recoup their money on the land when they sell, rent or provide easements to other land owners. They don’t enter into deals to lose money. That is just a risk they are willing to take.
        This is a business deal that will not materially impact the tax payers of this town (we want real and relevant tax benefits and town services) that’s an entirely different discussion that the Economic Development Committee should lead.
        Bolton needs an improved town center and we all know that and we should start by looking at the properties that are currently vacant and deteriorating before we build new ones. Asking why they’re empty and helping attract business there.
        Business don’t establish in Bolton because our tax policy is prohibitive and we have not demonstrated that we are a business friendly town (No known brands). I don’t believe they will come because we have a coffee shop or pharmacy or Dr’s office, these services are for residents. We knew the tax rates when we moved here. (I don’t like them either but I like the community) Ask your neighbors where they shop and you get different towns and even state in some instances.
        I firmly believe that in order for this to be a long-term and town impactful project, the Smith property should be sold to the town with the cost of the clean deducted from the sale price and Mrs. Smith (Thanks for the clarification Paul) should do this with the knowledge that her family legacy is left untainted. The town can then enter into a development agreement with BC LLC if they choose to play.
        There are so many red herrings in these proposals that I think we are just hurting the long-term interests of current residents. I can see a development going on in the back of the Smith property adding more pressures on the new schools, police, fire etc. Easement provided by BC LLC.
        This should be a public and private partnership with full disclosures on all interested parties. No conflicts of interest should exist between those involved and the town.
        There are real options out there.
        Checkout this site http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/sustain.htm

  18. While I do not want comment on the project as I have not had the opportunity to review the plans as of yet, my initial reaction is that a super market will greatly impact Bolton Orchards. My knowledge of farming is that it is very difficult to make it as a farmer and direct to consumer sales is critical to the survival. If a market is built on the Smith’s property and if this has a negative impact on the largest farm in town, I would assume that it is possible that this might force Bolton Orchard into considering the conversion of its 300 plus acres of farmland to residential lots. The financial impact on the town of this type of development would far exceed the cost of acquiring the property. I do not represent that I have any knowledge of Bolton Orchard’s operation and do not express my opinion based on any conversation with any family members but I have been concerned for many years about the impact of their land on our community. While I appreciate that additional tax revenue might be generated, my sole point is that perhaps it would be little more than a short term benefit.

    According to the USDA, the U.S. has lost over five million farms since 1935. Family farms are going out of business at break-neck speed, causing rural communities to deteriorate. The U.S. loses two acres of farmland each minute as cities and suburbs spread into the surrounding communities. By supporting local farms near suburban areas and around cities, you help keep farmers on the land, and, at the same time, preserve open spaces and counteract urban sprawl.

    • Paul Smith says:

      I would ask you all to be sure to read my letter to the Editor in the current issue of the Bolton Common. My letter will clear up some information in reference to “The Smith Family”
      Only one member the Smith Family controls that location. If in fact the entire family was in control our family business, founded in 1923 , by my Grand Father John Smith would still be in operation today and the property would be well mantained and an asset to the Town Center.
      Years of hard work and sacrifice went into that location by the male members of our family spanning 5 generations .
      One blogger commented that “the Smith’s want their money” Not true !!!
      It is The Smith that wants her money !
      We all feel terrible that people now refer to it as an “eyesore” “blight of the neighborhood” and “rundown” .
      I would hope that what ever happens to this location is done in the proper way and I urge all Bolton residents to be involved in the process.

      • Joan Entwistle says:

        Paul – just want to let you know that I miss your service station in the center of town. You folks rescued me or a member of my family from car trouble several times. Thanks!

    • Just sayin' says:

      Anyone famliar with Idylwilde Farms in Acton? About 30 years ago it was about the size Bolton Orchards is currently as I remember it, maybe a bit smaller. With at least 2-4 grocery stores in town at any given time (currently 3 large + Trader Joes), Idylwilde has done pretty darn well for itself. Acton and Bolton are very different, but so are farm stands and grocery stores. Apples and oranges, just sayin’…

      • Very familiar with Idylwilde Farms. Just sayin that apples and oranges both go for the same consumers. Bolton Orchards may already be as successful as Idylwide Farms. I don’t know anything about their finances but perhaps we should be concerned enoght to ask them what impact they might anticipate! I can agree that apples taste different than oranges but my point was not to define the difference between a grocery store and a farm stand but simply to identify a possible unintended consequence of bringing a market into town. No more and no less. Am I against a market. No. Am I concerned about the impact on 300 plus acers of farm land and the impact that such could have on my tax rate. You bet.
        Is the amount of land that Idylwilde Farms controls in Acton comparable to the land controled by Bolton Orchards?

        Comparing apples and oranges! Hey, did you know I actually grow an apple called an Orange Pippen! These blogs need a bit more levity. We are neighbors and friends and we can disagree but I have to believe that creative thinking in Town will allow us to collectively come up with the best solution for the Town and for Dave Druggie and his partners. How about some positive comments. At the risk of offending my vegan friends, I would love to have a butcher in town as I am tire of the meat I get at the markets and this would not really compete with Bolton Orchards. And before we continually bash chains, Dunkin Donuts recently renovated a historical building in Chatham Ma that retained the characteristics and integritiy of the community. I believe they have gotten positive reviews for their efforts to work with the historical commission and with the town and neighborhood. Not a fan of their coffee but I also hate to see us not consider every option. Sometimes having a partner with deep pockets and a solid anchor can bring success to the other small stores that could locate to our center. Again, just throwing out a concept for discussion so don’t cast the first blog back at my head!!!!

      • boltoncenter says:

        @ Richard
        Yup, it does get just a little rough-and-tumble on here once in a while. I’ve been letting the comments pretty much freewheel as long as they are on topic and not defamatory, disrespectful, or libelous. I’ve had to make a few judgement calls. There are passions on all sides of this and the issues really are complex. It points to how strongly many feel about what happens. I’m hoping that with this forum and others people will have an outlet to express themselves, but will also listen and attempt to understand other points of view. Thanks for contributing, and having such a good attitude about it. I’m sure many, many value your point of view. I know I do.

  19. Long time resident says:

    I so agree with the Main Street Residents- it is bad enough to have bumper to bumper traffic now – then to add more- what are they thinking adding all these building. People move in to Bolton because it has that rural setting, why would we want to change. It would be a real shame to add this to a historic setting. I could see maybe a business set up at the old gas station- How about an antique shop…

  20. Leslie Breeze says:

    As a member of the Public Ways Safety Committee I am deeply concerned with the proposed shopping center’s effect on traffic in Bolton’s town center. Year after year our committee’s focus has returned to the issues of safety and traffic congestion on Main Street. – especially near its intersection with Wattaquadock Hill Road and at the Harvard/Manor/Main intersection. This is precisely the area where a large shopping center may soon be built.
    One difficulty with placing a grocery store or a drugstore in this already-congested area is that the volume of turnover traffic coming to these types of establishments is considerable. (Not to mention the trucks making continual deliveries.) Cars enter and exit frequently – many, many cars throughout the day and well into the evening hours. Stores of this type draw customers who come in to run relatively short errands, but as they leave, others rapidly take their place – unlike restaurants or doctors’ offices. With parking spaces for 347 cars at a time, one can only imagine the total number of cars that can be expected over the course of a day.
    Traffic on Main Street is already horrendous. Indeed, the town center is the most congested area in the entire town. Why should we even consider adding to the gridlock that already exists?

  21. David Drugge says:

    This is not a shopping mall the 347 spaces are just a model for the sq. footage that was designed. These cars drive past every day, some will drop in and the rest will continue to drive past. This place was a gas station with 30 school buses moving in and out through out the day. I find it hard to believe that it could worse than it was. How many times a day do we drive in and out of the school? Without a light.
    There will and has been traffic studies done on this intersection, the state has recommended a light regardless of weather the site is built for five buildings or thirty five, look at the UMass study they show how this can be softened. We do have a considerable amount of thought and design into this.
    Before any of the design, I talked to many of the residents who were all for something to be built in this site, something with services for all of our residents to take advantage of, I hope to see you all at the meetings that lie ahead and my hope is that we can build a center that we can all be proud of. But I know now more than ever it’s just not possible.

  22. Nancey says:

    many of the residents on Main Street DO want a town center, I know we do, and have wanted one for a long time. We would love something there that we can be proud of, a cute and quaint shopping area that goes along with personality of our small town. All we are asking is that we don’t have a ‘box’ store. Of course they pay more money to be there, but we don’t want it. We would love to see little retail shops with adequate parking spots available, a small restaurant and or bakery, a small pharmacy, etc… whatever the retail is, yes, but not a walgreens or a shaws. I would like more focus to be on the town green part, with some benches and an area for sitting. There are many towns that do this in a wonderful way, I work in Concord, come and look and see what they do, not as big an area, but they would never allow big chains on the Main Street, when you walk down the Main street in Concord you could almost feel on vacation from it all, it’s so beautiful with it’s shops and beauty. There has to be a happy medium. Big chain stores are just money driven, and of course attractive to anyone that would like to make a fortune on this project, but that is not taking into consideration what we want to see in our town.

    • Christopher says:

      Safety and conjestion.
      Picture access and egress for fire and police on a busy weekend or 7:40 am weekdays from Watoquadoc onto Main given where we put the new fire police station. Laughable.
      There are umpteen studies that show wider roads and more parking just attract more traffic.
      A small well executed, well designed village center with color/height/signage restrictions ala Hilton Head and what Nick suggests above? Sure.
      A mini-mall with an anchor Supermarket (that might go belly up since 1. Main is too conjested as is, and 2. other towns offer a wider retail offering anyway) that offers zip in terms of tax benies? Please.
      Move Colonial Candies and the dry cleaner and County Cupboard up into town and put the services where they should be; down by 495. If only we could.
      Oh, and given our taxes, brick sidewalks both sides from Town hall to Harvard Rd.

  23. Emerson Eagle now raising children in Bolton because of what it does not have says:

    I was very saddened to hear of the proposed plan for the Smith property. My husband and I grew up in Bolton and chose to buy a home here and commute great lengths to work because of what we thought Bolton would provide for our children. A safe community, without the litter of commercialization as that was something Bolton was always proud to fight against. Every time we saw a new drug store being constructed in Hudson, we felt sorry for the residents. Drug stores there lead to dollar stores and on and on, etc. etc. We understand the intent is to create something good where there is opportunity but a drug store is not it – we have plenty of them in the surrounding communities. We will keep informed and attentive to any meetings on this subject.

  24. David Burney says:

    Despite the support that this project seems to be getting at this point, I doubt very much that the town will vote to change the zoning by-laws so it can go forward. One of the reasons cited to proceed is that this project is more acceptable than a 40B. Well thanks to the efforts of many fed-up residents a question to Repeal 40B will appear on the ballot in November. This is an opportunity to take this terrible law out of existance. Once that is done the fear factor of a 40B will be gone forever and this proposed project can die on its own merits (or lack thereof!) The number 1 desire amoungst Bolton residents is to maintain the rural integrity of our town. That doesn’t seem to be resonating with our Town leaders and committees. I thought that the EDC was created to help fill some of our vacant commercial buildings, not propose new developments in the absolute worst place in town! Why is the town sticking it’s nose into a privately owned piece of property anyway? We voted overwhelmingly NOT to purchase the property when it came up at town meeting a few years ago. Why doesn’t the town just stay out of this?

    • David Drugge says:

      Hagler, Hearns is what this reminds me of, We will let the residents vote on this and see what happens. Its a joke for you to call this a residential property when for almost 100 years it was a business. I do agree with you on one thing… I also voted not to buy it when it came up at town meeting. The main reason was that the town is not into real estate market, and it would cost us as tax payers double the cleanup cost. Let the developer handle the cleanup, and remember there will be design guide lines in place before anything is built.
      What I have not seen yet is what would you like to do with the property? And you can’t say nothing because it does need to be cleaned up per the DEP. Where would the money come from?
      Maybe we could get someone to but it, clean it up and gift it back to the town.
      Here are some real numbers 1.4 after cleanup, 2.3 for site costs ( sand filter, drainage, lighting, 5 building slabs, underground utilities, common and gazebo, side walks,) and 8-10 m. for build out. The only way to control or protect whats out back is with whats out front.

  25. A town for the People by the People - Formerly Bad decision all around says:

    @David – The town is in the real estate business when it needs to preserve open space, so why can’t it be in the business when it needs to build a center that protects the long-term interests of current and future residents? (Property Values) This piece of property holds potential access to land that if developed could be an added burden on the schools, fire, and police. We are one of the fastest growing communities in Western Mass if you believe some of the lists published in newspapers and magazines in Boston and TV shows. I’m for the development of the property but I’m positive the tax benefits will be minimal when you take into affect the impact on services etc. So let’s call this what it is, a business venture and not a tax reduction project for the residents. We do need a butcher/fish market, relocate the liquor store to Main Street, starbucks/panera/DD and let’s get Cambridge Neighborhood Books to open a store, Maynard outdoor to open an extension store and a town green and play ground. Let’s hope we all shop there otherwise they will struggle.

    I’m not objecting to cleaning the property or doing development that makes the town appealing to live in and helps the value of all the property owners in Bolton. Major commercial interest should be centered around the 495 intersection and there are properties owned by some of the bloggers and other families that could be a tremendous boom for this town.

    Mrs. Smith is not chiming in, she will sell the land to anyone that will give her the best price. However, she can’t get away from the fact that the value of the land is diminished by the required cleaned up. The DEP and the town can get the land cleaned if she chooses to do nothing. Eventually this becomes a hazard to businesses and neighbors of the property. Sad that we let this happen.

    I have always believed that if the town doesn’t buy this property it would be onerous to get anything done. I appreciate that suggestions are being taken by BC LLC but the interested parties have to keep an eye on the their bottom-line and not the future of this town. Nothing personal but the business is business and we all know that.

    I tried putting in a little humor but unless you are Letterman or Leno is just doesn’t play well with these subjects.

  26. Melanie Hughes says:

    What I would like to see for Bolton. A bike path or paved path around the common. A grass common area with a water fountain in the middle? Great gathering space. All Small shops. Butcher shop, Bakery, and coffee shop, High end antique store, consignment shop, Book Store, Boutique, Shoe Store, Bike shop and two eateries, maybe Italian and Mexican with a bar. Similar to Concord Mass with a stamp of Bolton.

  27. JP says:

    I strongly agree with Richard Pelletier’s comment above about being mindful of the potential impact on Bolton Orchards. I think it is highly likely that a grocery store would take business away from them. I love Idlywilde Farms, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s, but I cannot imagine how any of them would NOT take business from Bolton Orchards. And, if there is a demand in this town for something larger, then Bolton Orchards has the opportunity to expand and become more like Idylwilde Farms. I hope the Davis family is thinking about this!

    I think that whatever is done to the Smith property should not only retain the rural character of Bolton, but also ENHANCE, not destroy, opportunities for local farmers. This is the sustainable way to go.

    There is an increasing demand for locally produced food in Massachusetts. How about a “general store” with a pharmacy, some hardware, dry goods, and groceries which especially feature locally produced food, ENHANCING opportunities for our local farmers?

    While vacationing in Vermont a few years ago, we came across an excellent example of this in Craftsbury, the quintessential rural New England town. The Crafsbury General Store did all of the above (but not sure if they had a pharmacy) Here’s what it looks like:

    ….And a green where we could have a farmer’s market in summer would be lovely, and again, ENHANCE opportunities for local farmer’s!

    That would be the sustainable way to go.

    Just want to highlight Richard’s comment:
    “If a market is built on the Smith’s property and if this has a negative impact on the largest farm in town, I would assume that it is possible that this might force Bolton Orchard into considering the conversion of its 300 plus acres of farmland to residential lots. The financial impact on the town of this type of development would far exceed the cost of acquiring the property.”

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