By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — A subcommittee of the Economic Development Board (EDB) met Tuesday morning to discuss potential development of green space in the area running north and south from Third to Second Street and east and west from Chestnut Avenue to the midblock alley, which runs directly behind businesses including the Daily Grind.
That site was once occupied by the former Marshfield News-Herald and Professional Buildings, but those structures have since been demolished. The city of Marshfield owns the land, which is just over 54,000 square feet.
The city’s director of planning and economic development, Jason Angell, said that there has been a developer interested in the space for commercial use, but the developer has now told the EDB to proceed with looking at other options for the space. With commercial development looking like less of an option for the 200 block, the EDB subcommittee began putting ideas together regarding what a potential green space might entail.
It should be noted that the subcommittee is early in the planning stages of this process and was brainstorming in order to come up with some initial concepts for public review and input. If the project moves ahead and green space is the ultimate direction the city looks to take, Angell said he would hope for construction and development of the space to begin in the spring of 2016.
Randy Lueth, a landscape architect who is consulting for the EDB, will put together three concepts for further board review and present some “preliminary development scenarios” to the subcommittee on Sept. 22. The concepts will involve a plan that would maximize the amount of green space in the 200 block, one that would maximize parking with some green space, and another that would balance the amount parking and green space.
The subcommittee came up with several potential uses or amenities for the space, including using it for farmers markets, a stage space for performances, outdoor dining that could be used by local restaurants in the area, a splash pad or water feature, bicycle racks, open green space, and potential room for activities like croquet or bocce ball. In the winter the subcommittee said that the space could potentially incorporate a skating rink and a public Christmas tree and play Christmas music.
“I think that the space in general though needs to be pretty much open,” Angell said. “We want to encourage people to bring lawn chairs, sit.”
“Ideally by the end of summer, about this time next year, we’re looking at having an event that kind of kicks it off,” Angell said of the timeline for developing the space.
Angell said that in this process the city would be proactive in speaking with the public and gathering feedback on the project. Rather than hosting open houses and inviting the public to attend, like was done for the Second Street corridor project, Angell said it would be important to approach groups in the community and take the discussion to them.