SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – While dozens of residents came out to the Shrewsbury planning board meeting this week in opposition to plans for a flea market at Commerce Park on Route 9, many others are really looking forward to having it open and succeed. It seemed from the crowd that the opposition is really confined to a small, yet vocal group of residents that live on Beverly Hill Drive, which abuts the property, and specifically the homes that are on that side of the subdivision where the existing Commerce Park site is. They expressed concern about traffic, specifically the numbers of cars coming and going on Oak and Route 9 etc. There are no changes planned for the buildings, and the one in question has been vacant for a while anyway, so it’s not clear that there would be any difference to an abutter other than backing up to a successful flea market that’s only open on the weekends and has only car traffic, as opposed to a more commercial operation with 18 wheel trucks coming and going seven days a week. Then again, I’m not an abutter, so I can’t really speak to that.
I can say that we do need to build the non-residential tax base here in Shrewsbury, and we can’t do that if we keep staging protests every time someone wants to do something. I can’t recall the last business that people rolled out a red carpet for. It would seem as though this would have been a far simpler process, given that it wasn’t about building anything new, but rather just restoring life to an empty building.
I’ll add that I’m a tad biased, because I grew up in an area with two of the largest flea markets you’d ever seen, and it was awesome! As high school and college students, that was just the place to be, much as kids today go to the mall. We all shopped there, worked there, sold our baseball cards. It really was, and still is, one of the coolest places ever. When my aunt and uncle needed to supplement their teachers salaries, they opened up a little hot pretzel stand and sold pretzels and soda. Years later, they passed that along to their son after college, who then took the business savvy he learned there to buy a bagel store. Need a tire inflator, a china doll, that one missing hubcap, a black velvet picture of Elvis…just head over to the flea market and one vendor or another had one.
Hopefully, the issues can all be solved between the neighbors and the business and the parties will come to some understanding. Perhaps the cars will only be allowed to pull out onto Route 9, and not Oak Street. I can recall the week that Price Chopper opened, I was stunned by the amount of cars coming and going at the South St intersection, but in the end, it all worked out. On this particular strip of Route 9 where we have Home Depot, Stop and Shop and countless other business, one would hope that the number of cars can be handled in a way that works for everyone involved.