Publication Date



The Center for Economic Development at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, is part of the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department, and is funded by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the University of Massachusetts.


The recent closure of Fort Devens has had an undeniable impact on business in downtown Ayer, Massachusetts, deflating both the town's population level and its economy. Downtown business in Ayer has traditionally served several surrounding communities, and it is fundamental to the survival of Ayer' s economy that this business continue to thrive. Facing a future that will lack the economic boost formerly associated with Fort activity, business owners and the town must make a greater effort to attract downtown commerce. In the midst of these changes, residents and business owners have participated with town officials in planning for the future, including updating the town's Comprehensive Plan.

Additional development that will benefit downtown is already underway, including new business growth and the upgrading of a commuter rail facility that links Ayer with Boston. Downtown Ayer will also soon be a terminus for an eleven-mile bicycle rail trail, which promises to draw many users into downtown Ayer. In conjunction with these development efforts, it is crucial that the downtown be made more appealing to visitors. This includes enhancing downtown's public image, improving parking and pedestrian accessibility, and amending zoning bylaws to maximize economic and development potential

This study encourages continued communication between town officials and citizens of Ayer in enhancing the image of Downtown. The identification of issues and development of recommendations for this report is based largely on the input of downtown business owners and shop merchants.


Section 3: Pages 1-43