PEPPERELL — The Planning Board gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the Economic Development Advisory Committee following a presentation to the board on progress to date.
Keystones to the presentation were a six-panel color visitor guide that will be distributed throughout the town and surrounding areas, as well as a Railroad Square roundabout recommendation.
“This is a very active group of people,” said Town Manager and committee member John Moak.
Moak described the new visitor guide as a directory of “consumables and convenience items that people might find useful.” In particular, he cited users of the Rail Trail who pass through the town and might enjoy having a map of the area and a list of places to eat or retail locations to visit.
“We’re open for communication,” he said and welcomed all Pepperell residents the opportunity to submit their ideas to assist the committee in fulfilling their mission statement. Moak was joined by EDAC members Keith Bagley, Sandra Ciccone, Diane Cronin and Hal Sartel.
The EDAC was formed last year “to act as an advisory committee to the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board in fostering a positive relationship between the business community, residents and town government to ensure the balance between economic growth and the overall quality of life through long-range visioning.”
Part of that long-term visioning included a proposal to add a roundabout to the east end of Railroad Square as a traffic calming feature and as a means to connect the business corridor from roundabout to rotary.
“Roundabouts contribute to nonmotorized users. That’s a big feature,” explained Hal Sartel.
“We talked to some other people and we like it. Will you take a look at this and let’s see what we can do with it,” he asked the board.
Planner Al Patenaude agreed and identified a number of successful additions of roundabouts in neighboring Nashua, N.H.
“There’s a lot of detail in their design and it works well,” said Patenaude.
Improving the convenience facilities for Rail Trail users was also raised.
“We really need toilets down there. There are so many people utilizing the downtown restaurants for bathrooms,” said Sartel.
“We came up with some concepts we call the Town Experience,” said Keith Bagley.
Bagley cited proposed improvements to the “visual impression” of traveling through Pepperell by adding unified business signage, enhanced street and storefront landscaping, and town business and attraction communication. Other areas included making the town easier to navigate with improved traffic flow, adequate parking and increased pedestrian access.
Maintaining and attracting residents to Pepperell was also highlighted through a Pride in Pepperell campaign that would reward and recognize residents and businesses.
“We need to instill the ideas and enthusiasm in the groups, that they can go out on their own and do their own individual things. We’re trying to plant a seed to encourage their pride in Pepperell,” said Moak.