Getting heads together:
Result could be good ideas for downtown
The Patriot Ledger
Michael Rossini looks at communities like Brookline, with its upscale boutiques, and wonders why Quincy Center doesn’t mimic that model.
“I think Quincy could really benefit by having a whole string of upscale shops right at the downtown,” said Rossini, 39, an NStar engineer who has lived in Quincy all his life. “You look at the town of Brookline or Newton or Wellesley. They all have designer boutiques. They differentiate themselves from neighbors so the city will always remain a destination site for a specific market of shoppers.
“That’s what we want to do in Quincy. We want to differentiate ourselves.”
Rossini and other residents will have a chance to share their ideas for a rejuvenated Quincy Center - and even illustrate them - as part of a design workshop to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Saturday at Quincy High School.
The workshop, called a charrette, is aimed at soliciting public input as Mayor William Phelan and a task force of experts try to craft a plan to revitalize Quincy Center.
Participants will spend time brainstorming everything from big-picture issues such as how traffic can be reconfigured and where a park could be located, to smaller details, like what type of architecture makes sense and where trees should be added.
David Dixon, the city’s chief development consultant, said the charrette will bring together people with a range of backgrounds who would not normally interact.
“Two property owners from downtown, someone in the Chinese community, a resident from nearby can think about what should happen at the Hancock parking lot,” said Dixon, director of the planning and urban design division at the Boston architectural firm Goody, Clancy & Associates.
“You get neighbors talking to businesspeople talking to representatives of a particular advocacy group,” he said. “They all learn a lot from each other. It really strengthens their ideas.”
The design workshop will begin with remarks by Mayor Phelan and an introduction to the charrette process by a team of architects and planners.
Participants will then break into small teams to brainstorm on issues such as traffic, open space, parking, commercial and residential mix, and building height and density.
After lunch, groups will share ideas before breaking off again to sketch their plans with the help of professional architects and planners.
Phelan said ideas generated from the session will be helpful as a mayoral task force develops a master plan to revitalize a downtown that has been in decline for decades.
“I think, clearly, they become part of the overall proposal,” he said. “All the good ideas become incorporated into the vision, if you will, for the downtown.”
Not every idea will become reality, but charrettes are an important way to get residents involved in plans that will affect them for years to come, said Jim Kostaras, an architect and planner at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
“I think it’s a great way to energize people in the community and give them a sense that they’re part of the decision-making,” he said. “That’s important. We live in a democratic society.”
Preregistration is not required for the charrette, but anyone interested in participating is encouraged to call the mayor’s office at 617-376-1990 so staff members can estimate how many people plan to attend.
People who cannot stay for the entire event are encouraged to attend for part of it, the mayor’s office said.
Karen Eschbacher may be E-mailed by