I think one of the biggest issues right now is probably how we can continue to grow as a town. We need to continue to attract businesses to our industrial park, and to liven up our downtown area.
We have a lot of great, local businesses on North Main, which you love to see, but it’s hardly the “vibrant” or “thriving downtown” we hear about. These mom-and-pop businesses all serve important roles and contribute to our community and to our tax base, but if we’re looking to attract people to our downtown area and anchor commuters here after they get off the train at night, we need more restaurants and more variety.
We also have a top-notch industrial park (the second largest in the Commonwealth), but unfortunately it’s currently got a number of vacancies – over half a million sq ft of available flex/warehouse space (including the former Amazon distribution center), plus a number of office spaces.
Our Town Manager and our Economic Development Director are doing great work on this front, and as a member of the Select Board, I would work with them and do what I can to help attract more businesses to Mansfield to create more jobs in town and bring in more tax dollars to help reduce the residential tax burden.
Another opportunity area is with our CHAMPS program. The “Continued Hours at Mansfield Public Schools” program, with before- and after-school care, is in high demand but has limited capacity for new students. Priority is given to re-enrolling students and their siblings, which makes sense, but can present a barrier to entry for new parents or families that are new to Mansfield. I’ve talked to friends and neighbors who have expressed concern with how they can find after-school care for their children while both parents work, and this issue was also noted in the 2020 Master Plan. As a Select Board member, I would seek opportunities to partner with the appropriate folks to try and expand the CHAMPS program and make it easier for parents to access.