Town Common Revitalization

The proposed renovation of the Town Common will restore this iconic landscape by removing aging pavement, building new paths that are more accessible and more attractive, expanding lawns, and planting a new generation of native trees.

All existing asphalt will be removed from the interior of the Common, and new pathways of durable, pervious brick-sized concrete pavers will be aligned to create easier access and a more distinctive central lawn.

The paved area in front of the church will be reduced in size but will still allow needed vehicle access. The parking spaces off Church Street and the ramp connecting them to the Town Hall portico will be reconfigured to meet current accessibility codes, and stairs will be added to the walk near the police station entrance for improved safety.

Modestly scaled park lights will illuminate paths and complement the Common’s historic character; existing memorial benches will be reconditioned and placed near the historic fountain; and three new benches will be added in other locations.

Modestly scaled park lights will illuminate paths and complement the Common’s historic character; existing memorial benches will be reconditioned and placed near the historic fountain; and three new benches will be added in other locations.  

The Common’s mature honeylocust, stewartia, crabapple, spruce, and elm trees will be preserved, and nine new canopy trees will be planted, including native oaks, elms, and hophornbeam along with beds of evergreen and deciduous shrubs.

The Town’s proposed renovation of the Common will be coordinated with plans for the privately funded Veterans Honor Roll to help ensure a seamlessly integrated landscape.

Images of the Town Common below; the image to the left is how it currently looks while the image on the right is the future rendering. 
Town Common before image
Town Common proposed image

Documents Related to the Town Common Trees

Town Common Updates:

November 19, 2019
The Town of Manchester held a Special Fall Town Meeting on November 19th where voters agreed to fund an additional $225,000 for the Town Common Revitalization project. The Town Common Improvements project will commence with minor preparatory work over the winter and fully commence in the spring of 2020. The project is scheduled to be completed in June 2020.

September 5, 2019:
Continued meeting of the Historic District Commission
Members Present: Chair John Round, Donald Halgren, Joseph Sabella, & Rosemary Costello.  
Members Not Present:  Tracy Gothie & Richard Smith.
Guests:  Mr. Toby Wolf, Project Landscape Architect and Mr. Thomas Henderson, Manchester-by-the-Sea Tree Warden.

After lengthy discussions the Historic District Commission (“HDC”) board members decided in favor of the proposed Town Common Project, involving the proposed benches, lighting plan, and tree selection.

Mr. Halgren made a motion to approve the application of Town of Manchester Town Common, for a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic District Commission, or other such relief as may be necessary, to remove and replace existing walkways and construct new walkways, remove five (5) trees based on poor condition, protection and pruning of remaining trees, new plantings and landscaping, grading changes for the proposed Honor Roll, new site lighting, relocation of existing teak benches, which will be cleaned and the addition of three (3) new teak benches—all benches will be secured to concrete pads, as well as safety and access improvements to the Town Common, at 10 Central Street, Assessor’s Map No. 45, Lot No. 23, in District G, filed with the Town Clerk on August 14, 2019.  This decision is based upon the proposed project to proceed according to the revised plans submitted this evening and the addition of a spigot for irrigation.  Also based upon the decision that there be five (5) or six (6), if necessary, light poles, no higher than 12 feet in height (originally specified for 4 light poles at 16 feet in height).

Mr. Sabella seconded the motion.  Vote:  Mr. Round, Mr. Halgren, Mr. Sabella, Ms. Costello, and Mr. Coppola voted unanimously in favor of approving this application.

August 22, 2019:
The Town Common Project goes before the Historic District Commission (HDC).

Members Present: John Round, Tracy Gothie, Donald Halgren, Richard Smith, Joseph Sabella, and Rosemary Costello
Applicants Present: Susan Brown, Town Planner and Nate Desrosiers, DPW Project Manager
Guests: Thomas Henderson, Tree Warden

At the conclusion of the Town Common Project application portion of the meeting, the HDC decided to continue the application to Thursday, September 5th. The HDC and applicants agreed that (1) the choice of lighting for the Common needs to be changed to something more historic looking. (2) Toby Wolf, the landscape architect, will work with Thomas Henderson to ensure the selection of trees to be planted are native and pertinent.


July 9, 2019:
Following a presentation at the July 8 Tree Removal Hearing by Landscape Architect Toby Wolf and testimony and questions by residents, with answers from Mr. Wolf, the Board of Selectmen voted to save the large Elm near the center of the Common and the mature Linden near the Police Station. While saving the Elm will have a small impact on the design, creating a divot in the otherwise gentle slope to Town Hall steps, Board members agreed that the benefits provided by the tree were worth the modification.


June 25, 2019:
The Board of Selectmen opened a public hearing on Monday, June 24, 2019 at 6:45pm to discuss the removal of trees on the Town Common. This Public Hearing was continued to the Selectmen's July 8th meeting.

The Town Common revitalization plan is prepared to replace the trees as noted in the files below. Any questions please contact Town Planner Sue Brown at 978-525-6436.


Background:

Town Meeting 2017 approved $15,000 for landscape design services for renovation of the Town Common. In 2018, the Town secured the services of Toby Wolf, Landscape Architect., of Wolf Landscape in Groton, MA. 

The project is being designed in collaboration with the Veterans Honor Roll Committee to assure unity in design.

Sue Brown is acting as project manager for the design component of the project on behalf of the Board of Selectmen.

At the Manchester Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday, March 21, 2019, Landscape Architect Toby Wolf presented a preliminary concept plan for renovation of the Town Common that included two ADA compliant parking spaces, an accessible pathway and ramp, and the Veteran Honor Roll. The design, funded by voter approved Community Preservation Act Funds, is focused on reducing the amount of pavement, while still providing access for safety and circulation; improving accessibility, and enhancing the overall health and beauty of the site while maintaining its historic character. Stakeholders providing guidance early in the design process include Historic District Commission, First Parish Church, Manchester Fire Department, Department of Public Works, ADA Committee, Tree Warden, Veterans Honor Roll Committee, Friends of Manchester Trees, and the Conservation Commission.

Next steps include providing a visual presentation of the proposed changes, bringing the design from concept to construction plans including developing grading, utilities, planting and materials plans, and obtaining required approvals and permits from the Tree Commission, Historic District Commission and Conservation Commission. It is anticipated that the project will be ready for construction by the fall.

For more information contact Town Planner, Sue Brown at 617-429-9439 or browns@manchester.ma.us or the Town Engineer and Facilities Manager Nate Desrosiers at desrosiersn@manchester.ma.us