Saying dispelled: “Gardner not a hamburger town”

Mayor Nicholson: We’re Not Standing By Twiddling Our Thumbs

In a recent interview, we asked Mayor Nicholson about how Gardner MA is fostering an environment for business to thrive and creating more sustainable jobs actually in the Chair City. The Mayor responded with enthusiasm for the City’s efforts: “It’s one of those things that we’ve constantly been trying to change here in Gardner to show that Gardner does have the capability of revitalization.  We do have the ability to grow our economy.  We do have ability to get new businesses in here. And we’re willing to show you that we have that ability by doing all the investments in ourselves that we’re doing.  The work we’re doing Downtown with our infrastructure: the water works, the roadwork, the sidewalks, the lighting, the parks even. It’s showing that we’re not standing by twiddling our thumbs waiting for someone else to do something, we’re out there in the thick of it ourselves with them.”

The City is Setting an Example to Draw in Business.

Nicholson: ” I think we’ve set the example to show that we’re willing to invest in those who are willing to invest in us.  And it really is a two-way street.   I think there was a mindset here, I’m gonna say this, there was a mindset in Gardner before, there was a saying that “Gardner was nothing but a hamburger town,” and that we needed a  “hamburger budget” if we were going to do anything here because that’s all we could do and that’s all we could ever be.  But if you have that type of a mindset, that you can’t afford something off the dollar menu, you’re never going to be able to move yourself forward.  That’s something that we needed to change that mindset in order to come here.  We need to find new ways to attract new businesses in, so that we can compete with places like Leominster, Marlboro, other places that have seen large growth, because they were willing to step out and show what they were willing to do for someone.  ‘What can you do for me if I’m willing to help you back?’  It’s a two way street and it’s a partnership.  If you expect someone to come in and just do everything on their own and without willing to call yourself a partner in that, there’s no reason someone should open their doors  up in your community.”

Saying Dispelled. Gardner is NOT a “hamburger town.”

Like to hear the complete interview. Just click PLAY below. The topics covered on this page start exactly 20 minutes and 19 seconds in. Just forward if you like.

Mayor Nicholson Interview 7-6-22

Projects and Urban Renewal

We asked Mayor Nicholson about some City of Gardner Projects and the Urban Renewal Plan which came out in 2011 and was announced to be a 25 year initiative. Our question, “First of all, are we behind, on track, or are we ahead of the objectives contemplated in the Plan?”

Publisher’s note: Mayor Nicholson first states that we’re slightly behind, but after rattling off what can be objectively called a series of successes during his tenure alone, he quickly realizes how far Gardner has caught up.

June 2022 Improvements at Flat Iron Building in Downtown Gardner.
New Gardner Elementary School – July 12, 2022

Gardner MA Mayor Michael Nicholson stated, “I’m gonna say that we’re slightly behind and I’m gonna blame the Covid 19 pandemic for that. And I know that’s an excuse that a lot of people are giving right now for several different things, but, I mean the construction costs got brought up, the delays that were made because of the shutdowns, we weren’t able to come back to do certain types of work, I think all of that played into it.  However, that said, I don’t think we’re that far behind .  …Two year delay rather than a five year delay is what most people are.  You have a 25 year plan and you’re lucky if you’re 5 years behind in most cases.

  I think that there’s a lot of good going on, particularly in the Downtown Area with the CBG project that we’re doing, there’s sidewalks being installed this morning as we speak over on Parker Street.  That’s all part of that Urban Renewal Plan.  The creation of new housing units in the Downtown was cited in that Urban Renewal Plan, and now if you look at the different projects that we have going on with the Mass Ave. Rentals Projects going on over at 42 to 52 Parker Street at the old Ryan Block, the Temptations Building, that’s 30 apartment units there.  If you look over on Rear Main Street, depending on what design you’re seeing by the different contractors who are bidding on the project, it can go anywhere between 57 to 110 different apartment units back there. 

So you’re seeding the population so you have that Sustainability Plan for any businesses that come in.  Then you add the Vacant Storefront Program that we just got approved for, the efforts of Candor Realty and Empire Management in purchasing the buildings Downtown, so that we can get those renovations done so we can have places to attract people in.   I think there’s a ton of work that’s been done in the past year and a half to catch us up if not get us further along that the two year lag that we’ve seen, and the work that we’ve done there.  It really is a very positive outlook in the Downtown Urban Renewal Area.

  I think there’s a lot more that we should be doing and can be doing over at the Mill Street Urban Renewal Area, that kinda took a back seat just while things were happening with the financial constraints as a result of the recession,  and then the pandemic shutdowns, since that was implemented in 2011, it really just had to take a back seat, but there’s a lot more we can try to focus our efforts there in the next probably 2 or 3 years.