Community members of Nobscot gathered to brainstorm ways to solve the problems facing their village.
The small group identified the need for a playground and suggested having garden swaps and craft fairs in the parking lot of the , among other suggestions.
Alex Volfson, the organizer of the event this past weekend, split participants into small groups to discuss their personal ideas, after posing some major questions. Questions ranged from "What would a thriving village look like?" to "Where does our food come from?"
The consensus was that there is a lot of frustration within the Nobscot community.
When discussing the run-down shopping centers, Linda St. Lawrence stated, "Can you even get there? Is it possible to talk the property owners into change?"
Linda St. Lawrence has been a Nobscot resident for 32 years. She said, "I have seen the decline, it's horrible, I'm concerned about property values."
Sue Bernstein, a member of the Framingham Planning Board, said "We are blessed and harmed that we have route 9," said Bernstein, "do you go to Ace Hardware or Lowes? The big stores take business away from town community."
Many ideas were posed for how to improve the community. Some ideas included creating more open space, building a public tennis court, having a farmers market in the old strip mall parking lot, building ice cream shops, sandwich shops, bike paths, walking paths, and other community-based activities and organizations.
A major idea that all agreed upon was building a playground. Bernstein said it "is a crime that the town of Framingham does not have a first-rate public playground."
Linda St. Lawrence recommended turning the vacant Nobscot Park into a playground. She understood that this would take a lot of work. Sidewalks and parking space would have to be built along with the playground. However, all members of the meeting seemed to agree that it is worth the price.
Leah and Matt Marshquist from Ashland attended Saturday's event to learn about town planning strategies for their own town. But both contributed to the brainstorming discussion.
Leah Marshquist came up with the idea of having a local garden market in the Nobscot Shopping area parking lot.
"It would be a place where I could take all my extra tomatoes and sell them to the local community," said Marshquist. The idea was called the "garden swap."
Not only would this idea encourage local gardening but also public gardens and garden clubs, something the town of Framingham is lacking. Bernstein said, "it just takes people to get involved and do it."
Susan Massad, a teacher at Framingham State University, came up with the idea of hosting local craft fairs in the parking lot as well. She had participated in a local craft fair before and was pleased with the outcome.
The next step to take is to discuss with the businesses. Bernstein recommended the town "talks to the businesses and ask them how they are doing and what they need." The effort of improving Nobscot has to come from all angles.
The people who are going to make these changes are the business owners, real estate brokers, and possibly lawyers. St. Lawrence said "we have to put pressure on the owners." A conversation with the business owners will move the village of Nobscot further along, she concluded.