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By Cynthia Whitty

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On March 25 at a Community Forum, over one hundred residents and business owners voiced their opinions on the current challenges and improvements they would like to see along Pond Street/Route 126. The planning and design firm for the improvement project, The Cecil Group, gathered feedback at the meeting, will synthesize the ideas and formulate preliminary designs to present to residents on June 3, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Ashland High School auditorium, 65 East Union Street.

The community forums are part of a yearlong process to develop a shared community vision for the heavily traveled corridor, which sees an estimated 19,000 vehicles each day.

The firm will complete 25 percent of the design in a year. Because Route 126 is a state road, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will complete the plan and place Ashland in a queue for state-funded construction projects. Ashland’s $375,000, voted on in November, will leverage $7.5 to $10 million from the state, a return on investment of 2500 percent. The work will be completed in 5 to 7 years.

The Community Forum participants expressed their vision, which includes creating an elevated commercial corridor for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. The vision focuses on enhancing the character and improving business vitality by creating:

• An appealing town gateway
• A continuous sidewalk and multi-use path for the entire length of the corridor
• Improved business access and turn lanes
• Access and amenity to reinforce the Bay Circuit Trail, a trail and greenway arc extending between Plum Island in Newburyport and ending at Kingston Bay in Duxbury.

As part of this vision, a revitalized Pond Street should reinforce Ashland as a great place to live, work, shop and visit, participants said.

The Cecil Group consultant team will prepare two design concepts for feedback at the next Community Forum on June 3.

For more information, contact Ashland Town Planner Nathaniel Strosberg at 508-881-0100 ext. 652, send an email to info@ashlandredevelopment.com or visit www.ashlandrevelopment.com. More information about this process is available on the Town website and Facebook page

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