Residents begin to shape vision for Middleboro’s future

May 1, 2024

MIDDLEBORO — A number of Middleboro inhabitants shared their hopes for the future of Middleboro at a kick-off event May 1 to start the process of drafting a new Master Plan.

Residents expressed a range of hopes for the town. Those included ending further development on Route 28, maintaining the town’s rural character, mapping out walking paths in open spaces, limiting warehouse construction and offering more accessible grocery stores.

The Middleboro Master Plan Discovery Workshop was organized by the Town of Middleboro and the nonprofit agency Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development (SRPEDD). 

The kick-off event, held at the Middleboro Public Library, was the first of a series of workshops designed to give residents an idea of what a master plan is, the elements within it and how long it takes to complete. About 50 people attended.

A Master Plan is a policy guide designed to help communities create a vision of what they want to look like in the future. 

Attendees could get an idea of the components that make up a Master Plan, such as housing and economic development, which were set up on display posters. Displays explained what each component of the plan is and gave maps and guiding questions asking what visitors like about Middleboro and what they want to change. 

The public offered responses about how they spend time outside, where they like to shop and what they believe should be housing priorities. Residents posted their answers on sticky-notes and stuck them to each display. 

This form of open-house style event is a much more effective way to get the community engaged, said Taylor Perez, assistant director of comprehensive planning at SRPEDD. 

“We don’t want to bombard folks with information that is overwhelming. I’d rather just ask guiding questions given the information that we know,” she said, which “helps us get direction.” 

Workshops like this creates a “symbiotic” relationship between the agency and the town, said Perez. SRPEDD educates residents about the more technical components of the policy guide while residents tell the agency what matters to them. 

Maria Jones, who is in charge of Public Engagement and Communications at SRPEDD, noted that the turnout was a success. 

Following the discovery workshop, the Town of Middleboro and SRPEDD will analyze feedback gathered from residents and will hold topic-based discussion workshops from June to November, which will focus on key areas of the Master Plan, said Jones. 

Then, in 2025, a draft of the Master Plan will be written and reviewed.

Middleboro’s last Master Plan dates back to 2002. 

Middleboro Director of Planning and Community Development Leeann Bradley, who is the town’s point person for the project, said that part of the reason so much time has passed since the last update is that a lot of other issues had to be immediately addressed. 

She added that the town has already completed smaller projects, such as the Housing Production plan, which will be incorporated into the Master Plan.