Monthly Newsletter
January 31, 2022 | In This Issue
Meet Framingham Mayor Charlie Sisitsky

Former Member of City Council and Board of Selectmen Offers Insights into Framingham’s Economic Development
In November 2021, Charlie Sisitsky, a former member of Framingham’s Board of Selectmen when the community still had a town form of government and a former City Councilor, was elected to become the City of Framingham’s second mayor. Mayor Sisitsky was inaugurated early in January and Choose Framingham had the opportunity to catch up with him about his vision for the City’s economic development going forward.

Tell us about your background.
I first volunteered in my community as PTO President of Potter Road School. Since then, I’ve been a Town Meeting member, Chair of the Finance Committee, a member of the Board of Selectmen (including several years as chair), and a member of the City’s first City Council. Professionally, I became the Town of Natick’s Planning Director in 1981. Eight years later, I became Natick’s Director of the Department of Public Works, which is a position I held for 20 years. 

What are your plans for the City’s economic development?
I’m working to put all the pieces in place that we need to have a robust and collaborative economic development team for our City. In addition to hiring a new director of Planning and Community Development, I want to create a new economic development position who will work closely with me to reach out to the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Framingham Inc, the Framingham Business Association, large property owners, large corporations and businesses as well as smaller ones throughout the City. I’m looking forward to working with the new Economic Development Council -- once the legislation passes to create the Council -- to work on some larger development projects. 

And your priorities for Framingham post-COVID?
Even as the pandemic unfortunately continues, I’m focusing on making sure our key services are protected and maintained, stabilizing our financial situation, being responsive, and looking forward to new development and generating growth. Post-COVID, we will work on making downtown a destination, with a new government center and an accompanying arts center. We want to expand our rail trail system and clean up our contaminated sites, including General Chemical.

What are some of your favorite things about Framingham?
The diversity of the City, our educational system, and the variety of amenities, such as recreation, retail, and restaurants.

Is there anything we missed?
I place great importance on connecting with the entire community and being responsive. In the Mayor’s office and in other City departments, we have positions that focus on engaging with the community and on making opportunities for the community to be engaged with us.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Awards Framingham $400,000 in Complete Streets Funding
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation and CEO Jamey Tesler joined Mayor Charlie Sisitsky, State Representatives Jack Patrick Lewis and Maria Duaime Robinson, and others in Framingham on January 18th to announce that the City of Framingham has been awarded a $400,000 Complete Streets grant. 

The Complete Streets Funding Program is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to provide “safe and accessible options for all travel modes - walking, biking, transit and vehicles – for people of all ages and abilities,” according to their website.

The funds will be used for the Western Avenue Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements project. The project is an approximately 4,800-foot stretch along Western Avenue. The new sidewalks and striped bike lanes that will be installed with this funding will connect to the already-existing pedestrian routes in Downtown Framingham to the municipal line with the Town of Sherborn. While the neighborhood is currently served by the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA), it lacks bicycle or pedestrian facilities.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Baker-Polito Administration and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) for awarding this grant to the City of Framingham,” said Mayor Charlie Sisitsky in a press release announcing the award. “With this funding, we will provide much-needed accessibility for underserved areas in south Framingham, connecting pedestrians, cyclists, and commuters with access to public bus transit, jobs, and our downtown.”

The $400,000 grant will go towards the initial construction phase of the two-phase project. You can read more about the funding at the MetroWest Daily News and at the Framingham Source.
Phase II of Economic Development Plan Work Continues

New Data Examining Framingham’s Economic Base Presented
On January 6th, consultants RKG Associates presented updated data and analysis to the City’s working group overseeing phase II of Framingham’s economic development strategic plan. The data look at the City’s demographics and provides an analysis of Framingham’s economic base.

The City began working on phase II of economic development planning last September. Phase II’s efforts are led by RKG Associates, who previously analyzed Framingham’s market position, along with partners Innes Associates, JM Goldson, and VHB. The Division of Planning and Community Development is managing the process. Phase I of the Economic Development Strategic Plan was completed in 2018.

Key demographic findings from the data report include:
  • Framingham has a diverse population and is diversifying.
  • Framingham’s and MetroWest’s populations are aging.
  • Framingham is in a well-educated region, but local educational attainment trails NECTA division and county levels.
  • Local labor force participation is high.
  • Demand is high and employers are looking for ways to attract more highly-skilled workers.

The report determines that there remains a strong demand for housing while the landscape for large-scale commercial research and development projects is fluid. The study also concludes that Framingham’s retail sector is in a stronger position than other communities in the eastern part of Massachusetts but that the City’s Office space market has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next steps in the planning process include an in-depth market analysis, a build out analysis, a fiscal impact analysis to test alternatives, and district level plans for regions that include the 9/90 Technology Park, Downtown Framingham, the Golden Triangle area, Route 30/Speen Street, and the neighborhoods of Nobscot (Phase I), Saxonville, and Southeast Framingham (Phase I). Public meetings at the district level will be held in each of these regions beginning in February 2022.

To see the full presentation prepared by RKG Associates, Inc., please visit the link at City’s website.