Major construction projects involving the Lincoln School and a community center attracted much of the limelight at the State of the Town meeting, but a third more modest project may also come to pass: revitalizing South Lincoln, piece by piece.
Several past studies by the town have consistently identified a desire for the area to be a “vibrant, walkable and sustainable village… but to be honest, not a lot of progress has been made over the years,” Margaret Olson of the South Lincoln Planning Implementation Committee (SLPIC) said at the November 4 town-wide meeting. Now, however, ideas are sprouting from SLPIC’s project teams for wayfinding, the MBTA station, placemaking, and village planning and zoning. Suggestions, discussion, and pictures are available on an interactive website at at courb.co/lincoln.
One of the goals of the Placemaking Team is revitalizing the green space tucked into the southeast corner of Donelan’s. The Rural Land Foundation, which owns the property, commissioned a study by Concord landscape architect Lemon Brooke LLC of how the space could be made more enjoyable and useful for the public. Their report includes illustrations of ideas for seating and a play area to replace the “tot lot” on the other side of a brushy area close to Lincoln Woods.
The town recently learned that it was turned down for a $50,000 matching grant from MassDevelopment to fund the work (which would cost a total of about $100,000). The SLPIC Placemaking Team will exploring other possible funding sources such as grants, crowdfunding or the possible use of Community Preservation Act funds, said Director of Planning and Land Use Jennifer Burney.
The Wayfinding Team will help solve the problem that “when you come to town for one thing, you don’t know other things are there,” said Olson, who is also chair of the Planning Board. Part of the $400,000 Complete Streets grant that the town recently received will help fund signs and informational kiosks in South Lincoln as well as roadway markings and other measures improve pedestrian, transit and bicycle circulation around Lincoln Station.
The Planning and Zoning Team is working on drafting new regulations to encourage a mix of housing and commercial uses in South Lincoln and will present them for a vote at a special town meeting in November 2018, Olson said. SLPIC has also commissioned a study of the DPW site on Lewis Street with an eye to possibly consolidating or moving some of its functions.
The MBTA team is thinking about improvements to the commuter rail station, which has inadequate signage, no passenger shelters or bike amenities, and is not ADA-compliant. Olson noted that the MBTA is under pressure to improve train travel times, and a handicapped-accessible platform such as the one in West Concord would make passenger boarding and alighting much faster. It’s also almost impossible under current conditions to get a bike onto the train “unless you’re pretty young and pretty strong,” Olson remarked.