Residents reimagining downtown Lynn


March 17, 2016
By Thomas Grillo/The Daily Item

Residents say Tuesday night’s session about the downtown could spark improvements in a city that has suffered from image problems, too few trees, insufficient lighting and shuttered storefronts.

“The biggest problem in Lynn is that it’s not seen as welcoming,” said George Herrell, who lives on Essex Street. “People don’t come here because of its reputation — deserved or not.”

Herrell was one of more than 100 residents who attended a meeting at the Lynn Museum to hear recommendations on how to revitalize the downtown. The MassDevelopment Transformative Development InitiativeCity Hall, a Philadelphia-based design firm and the public are exploring ways to reimagine the downtown. The initiative comes as Gov. Charlie Baker has made Lynn one of his economic development priorities.

MassDevelopment fellow Joseph Mulligan opens the presentation at the Lynn Museum Tuesday on how to improve downtown Lynn.


MassDevelopment fellow Joseph Mulligan opens the presentation at the Lynn Museum Tuesday on how to improve downtown Lynn.

The problems are many and so are the potential solutions, say residents. Herrell, who moved to a Lynn loft a decade ago after being priced-out of South Boston, said people come to the Lynn Auditorium for a show or go to the Blue Ox to eat, but quickly turn around and go home.

“There are stretches of abandoned areas and boarded up buildings and the city doesn’t come together with nice, connected points of interest,” he said. “There’s no Freedom Trail. We are not set up right now as a friendly, explorable, welcoming kind of place.”

What’s needed, he said, are signs, better street grids to direct traffic more efficiently, green space and parking in convenient locations.

“We have the ocean and Lynn Woods, but it’s all very disconnected,” Herrell said. “The traffic patterns are not working and it’s not bicycle friendly. Right now,  there’s no reason to come to the downtown.”

Downtown would benefit from better retail such as Cafe Moka in Central Square and Zimman’s, a landmark on Market Street, which attracts shoppers with its unique variety of fabrics and home decor items, he added.

Diane Giambrone, a Munroe Street resident, said she moved to the downtown in 2013 and has seen some improvement. But she said there’s a lot more to do.

“It’s a great place to live and I love it here,” she said. “But they should get rid of the riffraff, clean the streets, add more lighting, improve pedestrian walkways, plant flowers and trees, install benches and attract new restaurants and cafes.”

Gordon Hall, president of The Hall Co. and a director of The Daily Item, said some of the fixes are simple and won’t cost much.

“Pedestrian crossings are not well marked, walk button signs are missing and you take your life in your hands when you cross Market Street,” he said. “That’s low hanging fruit.”


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