In 2005, the Town of Stow received a Priority Development Fund Grant made available by MassHousing. The funds were used to develop zoning bylaws with the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission for a draft Mixed-Use Overlay District in town (Stow Lower Village 2011, 4). At that time, two of Stow’s villages, Gleasondale and the Lower Village, seemed like ideal candidates for the project. After focusing its initial efforts on the Lower Village, the Town is preparing to turn next to Gleasondale, in the southern edge of town. A classic mill village on the Assabet River, Gleasontdale is home to Stow’s contribution to the American Industrial Revolution.
The purpose of this project is to create a revitalization plan for Gleasondale that will capitalize on the village’s remarkable characteristics. Today, Gleasondale is home to a variety of uses, including agriculture, outdoor recreation, housing, and light industry. At the center of the village are two mill buildings, which have housed Gleasondale’s industrial operations for generations. Throughout the spring of 2013, a team of graduate students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has assessed the social and economic potential of the village and the town. As part of the Economic Development Practicum, the team was tasked with identifying key issues and developing recommendations for revitalization and preservation in accordance with Stow’s values.
The project team has gathered information from a number of sources: Documents and Reports, Town Officials, Industry Professionals, and Local Stakeholders. Documents from municipal, regional, and state agencies were reviewed alongside reports from civic groups and non-profit organizations. Town officials were consulted for insights pertaining to the town and village, and the feasibility of potential recommendations. The team contacted industry professionals for in-depth guidance on larger-scale issues, in order to place particulars in their appropriate context. Local stakeholders were interviewed, as well, to gather the perspective of tenants and property owners at the Gleasondale Mill site.
Following initial meetings with planning officials in Stow, the team drafted a project scope. The project was completed in three phases: inventory, assessment, and implementation. This report presents the output of each of these phases. The inventory examines the physical, social, cultural, legal, and commercial elements in the project area. The assessment identifies the major issues pertaining to the redevelopment potential of the site, gathered from the inventory. Guided by the assessment, the implementation presents the team’s recommendations, and strategies for realizing them. The report concludes with a vision for Gleasondale.