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ABOUT TOWN: Stoughton Master Plan Forum Talks Traffic, Jobs, Downtown Revitalization

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RESIDENTS TURN OUT FOR MASTER PLAN VISIONING: Over 100 residents came to contribute their thoughts on a vision for Stoughton's future Monday night when the Stoughton Master Plan Committee hosted a Public Forum at the Stoughton Senior Center.

A light dinner was served and Joe Scardino, Chairman of the Master Plan Committee and the Planning Board, introduced Interim Town Manager Joseph D. Faster, Jr., and then Sue Brown hosted a review of the "Community Snapshot" (compiled by the Town's consultants, her company, Brown Walker Planners).

The snapshot provided some very interesting information on our town.

  • Residents are getting older. The median age rose from 39 in 2000 to 43 in 2010.

  • 25% of Stoughton residents are renters.

  • 21% of our population speaks a language other than English as their primary language at home.

  • Median income for households here is $69,945. Income went up over 20% in the last decade.

  • 20% of our population have a college degree, and 10% have a Master's Degree or higher.  
  • 41% of all of our land is residential. 29% is municipal or other public or private nonprofit use (includes some open and recreation space.) 12% is commercial, industrial, or mixed use. 18% is agricultural uses or private vacant land.

  • Only 8% of our land (approximately 730 acres) is listed by the Assessor as "developable" or "potentially developable." It is likely some of those sites have development limitations, according to the study.

  • 75% of Stoughton's housing stock is single-family, and 19% is condos. 40% of all multi-unit structures have 10 or more units.

  • The average home in Stoughton was worth $243,750 in 2011. That same home was worth $353,750 in 2005, a loss of 31% of value in six years.

  • 11% of Stoughton's housing stock is "affordable", according to State standards.

  • All of Stoughton's property - residential, commercial, industrial and personal, is worth $2,992,811,251. Yes, that's almost three BILLION dollars.
  • Our real estate tax bills are the fourth-lowest in the region.  

The crowd was divided into smaller groups for discussion. The small groups later reported back to the total audience, which had diminished as time went on.

Many great ideas were talked about, from solving the traffic issues, to remaking the downtown. Most people present agreed that the town needed a new high school, should buy the train station, and should reconfigure the downtown to create a "pedestrian way." Many suggestions were made about traffic congestion, bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

There was talk about attracting quality businesses, with high paying jobs, to the area. Stoughton businesses now employ 12,700 people today.

Residents in a couple of groups thought that Stoughton has a negative reputation from news reports, and that the school test scores didn't look particularly attractive to outsiders. They had suggested the town start a Public Relations campaign to feature the many positives. Those in attendance thought the people, and the spirit, of the Town were its best features.

Sue Brown and Juliet Walker of Brown Walker Planners, and Kien Ho of BETA Group were planning on putting all this information in a digestible form for the Master Plan Committee to share with the public.  

The Master Plan Committee is Chaired by Scardino. Vice Chair is Dan Kelly of the Conservation Commission. Other members of the Committee include Selectman Chairman John Stagnone, Forrest Lindwall and Lou Gitto of the Redevelopment Authority, Chris Petrie of the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce, and Billy Angelos of the Planning Board.

The Master Plan Committee is being advised by Town Planner Noreen O'Toole, who also helped lead the forum Monday night.

Selectman Chairman John Stagnone was in Norwood, working on the State Theater project, a key to revitalizing the downtown. Selectman Vice Chair Cynthia Walsh and members Bob O'Regan and John Anzivino were in attendance, in addition to School Committee members Dr. Erdem Ural and Vice Chair Joyce Husseini. Many department heads, board members, committee members and other government officials were also in attendance.

A lot of hard work was expended on putting on this event. It was gratifying to see the many new faces who were volunteering for the first time for their town. Hopefully, their enthusiasm level will remain high and they will become an integral part of the town's boards and committees.

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CONDOLENCES: To retired Stoughton Public Schools Physical Education teacher Peter Everett on the loss of his beloved mother, Mary M. (Ruane) Venckus, who passed away last Friday at 98 years of age. She worked for the defunct Jordan Marsh Company for decades, until her retirement in 1988. She was a resident of Stoughton the past 16 years. Condolences also to Stoughton's Judith O'Connell, Mary's daughter, as well as her Stoughton-based grandchildren, Jennifer Barucci and Heather McGinley.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to: Kim Parsons, daughter of the late Bob Parsons and his widow, Joyce Parsons, is celebrating her 25th. Kim is Assistant Gymnastics Coach at the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Boston University.  Her brother, Jonathan, is Assistant Women's Basketball Coach at Brown University; to Robin Kirchdorfer, advisor at Lia Sophia, and a Stoughton resident; and to Jenn Sheridan, a Hingham native, who now resides in Stoughton. 

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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Sunday marked the 34th Anniversary for Susan Hargreaves of Stoughton Public Library and her husband, Tom. It was also the 24th Anniversary for Christine and Bill Provost.

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