By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Officials are watching the clock when it comes to the development of the Center Business District and French Square, and they’d like to move as quickly as possible. While the state has promised the $2.7 million MassWorks grant to Winthrop, Winthrop officials have yet to sign a contract with MassWorks and receive funds. The MassWorks grant seeks detailed plans from the town to support the grant work.
“If we lose this money I don’t think we’ll be able to go to the well again,” said Council President Russ Sanford, who is pushing to tie up loose ends. “If we put this on hold we’re in jeopardy of loosing some serious money. It’s imperative we make some decisions.”
There are two funding cut-off dates, Dec. 31 and June 30. Officials are aiming for Dec. 31.
In September 2016, the town of Winthrop applied for $2.7 million in MassWorks funding to construct water, sewer and storm drainage improvements in and around French Square. The project would also improve the roads, sidewalks, crosswalks and other street scape features of the Centre Business District to make the district more attractive for redevelopment and improve the Center commercial area. So far utility work in the center has been done.
Councilor Heather Engman has been working on obtaining a landscape architect. After sending out a request for quotes, three firms were interviewed and one called CBA Landscape Architects of Cambridge was the favorite, at $64,000, although no firm has been selected yet.
“The role of the landscape architect is to design the open space, lighting, sidewalks and plantings so the open space is usable by the public and give us the look and feel we want to have,” Engman said. “The final configuration on the center has not been done yet.”
Engman said the selected firm would hold public design meetings and involve the public in the design process.
“I think it’s important to work with a landscape architect so we have a design that meets our needs,’ Engman said.
The entire process should take 60-90 days and the landscape architect would work with Woodward & Curran, the town engineers.
“CBA said the town has an opportunity to create a gateway,” Engman said.