Work to update town’s master plan begins

GREENFIELD — What will the town look like in the next 10 to 20 years?

That is the question a group of 36 volunteers will try to answer over the next nine months as they review and revise the document that the town uses to guide growth and development.

The town’s Master Plan Steering Committee, which is made up of municipal department heads, business leaders, a town councilor, “green” leaders, residents and the Planning Board has begun the arduous task of revamping the town’s entire master plan to bring it in line with changes that have happened since it was created more than 10 years ago and changes they expect to happen over the next decade or two.

The group will meet once a month between now and the end of next summer and will form subcommittees to make the work a little easier.

Those subcommittees, which will report to the larger committee on a regular basis, will study land use and “smart” growth, economic development, housing, transportation, facilities and infrastructure, and natural, cultural and historical issues.

A three-member team from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. of Springfield will serve as consultants for the project.

The larger committee will hold three community workshops between now and next spring, where it will collect comments and ideas from the public. The first will most likely be held in February, the committee said.

Town Council will eventually have to vote to adopt the town’s new “sustainable” master plan.

Some of the issues that committee members said they’d like to cover include parks, recreation and open space, education, quality of life, livability, diversity, moving the town forward, human rights, and sustainability and green energy, which will be incorporated throughout the plan this time.

Many committee members also suggested at a recent meeting that it and its subcommittees spend a good amount of time talking about how to implement the suggestions and goals they eventually come up with.

“Implementation is very important and key to its success,” said the consultants.

The consultants said a website will be up and running after the first of the year where residents may interact with the committee and make comments, especially if they are unable to attend any of the workshops.

The process for revising the master plan has begun with the first of many monthly meetings. By summer, consultants believe the first draft of the plan will be ready to share with the public and by late fall of next year, the final draft will be ready to be presented to Town Council for a vote.

The full committee will meet next on Jan. 15 at a place and time to be announced.

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