Business owners discuss Market Street changes

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Market Street may have more shade and more seating if the select board agrees on regeneration plans (Dan MacAlpine photo).

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by Dan Mac Alpine

IPSWICH — One-way. Two-way. More trees. More tables. Bump-outs out to widen existing sidewalks. Maybe a gazebo at the intersection of Union and Market streets. Places to make downtown Ipswich more pedestrian-friendly.

These are some of the ideas town manager Anthony Marino proposes for Market Street, using money from National Grid’s repaving of the road. The one-way proposal would take more money.

However, Market Street business owners believe the plans may contain some flaws. They worry about reduction of parking spaces and traffic — therefore customers — going past their businesses and losing access for their delivery trucks. Business owners voiced these concerns when speaking out on a reimagined Market Street.

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“It’s not a matter of public parking. It’s come-and go-parking, stop-and-go traffic,” said Linda Ayaloa, owner of Hearts and Flowers on Market Street.

“It would be more a walking area. More like Newburyport, with more shops like Betsy Frost,” if the plans were to become reality, said Debbi Jimenez, owner of Scott Networks. 

Betsy Frost of Betsy Frost Design sits on the steering committee for the community development plan. 

Frost’s business relies on Market Street traffic to sell its products. Frost said she tries to attract people from Salem and Andover, people from outside the area. “So it’s important to me that people feel comfortable parking.”

Overall, Frost likes some of the ideas put forward for Market Street; others, she’s not so enthusiastic about.

“I’d keep the two-way option and keep the beautification effort. My biggest worry is we decide to go one way and then have a stalemate because of cost,” Frost said.

The select board will invite public response to the Market Street ideas at an in-person meeting that will take place on July 19 at 7 p.m. at the town hall.

The Market Street ideas focus on three areas: Depot Square, the front area of the post office and the end of Union Street, and the end of Market Street at the intersection of Central, North Main, and South Main streets. 

The intersection at Five Corners could change depending on which option is chosen (Dan Mac Alpine photo)

The Ipswich Business Roundtable has yet to take an official position on the Market Street plans, said roundtable founder and head Ann Orcutt, owner of AnnTiques.

Generally, the plans cover two options for Market Street: one for one-way traffic and another for two-way traffic.

Both options promise more green space and tables than is currently present.

The two-way option would cost between $500,000 and $600,000 according to Marino, and could be implemented directly. The two-way option would be at least one to two years away and cost more.

Bud Siciliano has a different idea. He owns the Heart and Soul Café with his wife, Julie, at the top of Market Street.

Siciliano would like to see the green garden space in the middle of Market Street extended, “as far as possible,” limit or eliminate delivery trucks on Market Street, and crown the area with a sign that might say, “Welcome to Ipswich.”

The green space down the center of Market Street would contain benches and trees, Siciliano said. “It would look beautiful. I think that would be so welcoming to incoming folks.”

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