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POLL: What’s Missing in Downtown Medfield?

With the potential arrival of two chain coffee shops in Medfield, we want to know what you think is missing in the downtown.

Seemingly anyone you talk to in Medfield these days has something to say about the potential arrival of two chain coffee shops in the downtown.

At one end of town, you have And in the heart of the downtown – at the site of the current Mobil station – d.

Some residents have said they will welcome both businesses with open arms because it will provide much needed tax revenue for the town and supply jobs to Medfield’s youth. Others have expressed concerns about the traffic impact these coffee shops will bring, worsening an already frustrating commute along Route 109 during the morning and evening rush. There’s also concern for the local coffee shops and how the arrival of these two popular chains will affect the other businesses.

Linda Freedman, owner of the on Main Street, commented on Medfield Patch’s story, “Developers Show Interest in Bringing Starbucks to Medfield,” saying, “as the owner of Blue Moon Bagel cafe, I am so very upset about the idea of the town letting in Starbucks and other corporate chains. They will not add anything positive to the charm and flavor of the town, will increase traffic problems, and most likely will greatly impact the shops like Blue Moon who work so hard to give the community a nice personal experience,” she said. “We have always supported this town and its people: we now ask you for your support in not letting Starbucks come to Medfield. We are not sure we can stay in business if Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts comes. I also want to advocate for the preservation of Honey's, the Donut Shop, From Scratch and all small businesses who depend on their livelihood from the Medfield community. Please think of us and our 16 years of service to Medfield before you casually let in Starbucks.”

Representatives from Starbucks met with Medfield’s Downtown Study Committee twice in May to discuss the possibility of bringing the Seattle-based coffee chain to Medfield. Brandie Erb, chairman of the Downtown Study Committee said developers are not required to meet with the Downtown Study Committee but often choose to do so to gain a better understanding of what the town’s business needs are and what requirements they will need to meet in order to develop in town.

“The Downtown Study Committee has been around for 10 years,” Erb said. “We are a town committee charged with evaluating opportunities for reuse of the downtown, among other things. … Part of our responsibilities is to not actively recruit businesses but more to work with owners of property and give them guidance for what we would like to see in town and/or the process of working with the town.”

As for having any control over which businesses move into the downtown, Erb said the committee doesn’t have much.

“Does the Downtown Study Committee have any affect on who a property owner will sell to? Yes and no,” Erb said. “Without a property violating any town bylaws, there is nothing we can do to have an affect on a property unless a bylaw is violated … then the appropriate committee takes over.”

To better explain what the town can and cannot do in terms of determining what type of business comes to town, Erb compared business property owners to homeowners.

“It’s the same as if the town told a personal property owner what to do with your house, you would not be happy with it,” Erb said. “The town can’t tell the property owner you can’t rent to a coffee shop because we have enough coffee shops already.”

No matter what side of the discussion you are on – in favor or against the chain coffee shops moving to Medfield – it seems most will agree the current condition of the Mobil gas station is an “eyesore” and in need of change.

With much of the discussion around town centered on what businesses should or should not be coming to the downtown, we asked Erb what she thought the downtown was missing.

“We obviously have no ice cream vendor now and we would definitely like to see ice cream come in somewhere,” Erb said. “Whether someone added it or it became a new business moving in, that would be fantastic. We would love to see that. As far as other businesses, family-friendly is always successful in this town. If it were to be a restaurant or any retail store that would be most welcome.”

As for what the downtown doesn’t need, Erb said Medfield has an abundance of realtors, banks, pizza and coffee shops.

Today’s question: So, if you’re not in favor of another coffee shop, or two, coming to Medfield, what would you like to see in the downtown?

Errin Chapin June 09, 2012 at 01:05 AM
We need businesses to come in to town to help with our tax base. Especially given the fact that the 40b and state hospital properties will be a negative to our town coffers. You may not like who comes in, but there is no town employee going out soliciting bidders for open property. We need to become attractive to business. Thwarting that...then be prepared for higher taxes. Sure I would like to live in a town that had minimal commercial real estate. But our town cannot afford that anymore. Encourage those that pose a minimal impact to the town. Dunkin Donuts and Startbucks...bring it on. And while you are at it, give Jim James the signage rites so he doesn't leave town. Medfield needs Park Street Books.
Chad June 09, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Ex-resident here - so minor input. Thanks for the opportunity to comment. It would be great if a local family could operate a business that would allow repeat customers who could linger awhile. 'Family oriented' is ideal as well. No pot belled stove, but a community-center-style might lend a sense of place sorrily needed in today's bed room community Medfield has become.
Scott Brooks June 12, 2012 at 06:59 PM
The worst thing for a town center is to have empty properties, for one this will not be bringing revenue into town and for two it will often discourage other vendors from coming into town; because quite simply empty spaces give the appearance of poor location for business growth. Having businesses in town with large name recognition breeds confidence for businesses to set up shop in town (even if it is a chain) Do we need four coffee shops in town? No, we don't, but we don't need abandon buildings either. It is not the end of the world, There could be worse things moving in, we will still have a great town. Maybe it's time we woke up and smelled the coffee...
Stein Dennis June 12, 2012 at 07:43 PM
So chains move in and local businesses close down. It's going to happen. It's happened in many other towns. So we wake up to the smell of nationally branded coffee, and I think that is sad. Cookie cutter towns.
rd June 27, 2012 at 07:07 AM
We need a All Natural Food Store.

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