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Shelburne board winds up open space ‘action plan’

Recorder file photo
Morning light shines on Shelburne Falls as seen from the High Ledges.

Recorder file photo Morning light shines on Shelburne Falls as seen from the High Ledges.

SHELBURNE — How concerned are you about preserving the town’s rural and historic character? Do you want more river access for recreational activities? A picnic area? A systematic means of keeping invasive species from supplanting native vegetation and habitat?

Residents have until Friday to weigh in on a proposed 2014 Shelburne Open Space and Recreation Plan, which was discussed at a public forum on Nov. 21, with about 40 residents present.

Copies of the draft plan are available to residents at Arms Library, the Shelburne Free Public Library in Shelburne Center, and in the town clerk’s office in Memorial Hall.

Section 9, the seven-year Action Plan, is available on the town website: www.TownofShelburne.com.

The plan was put together by the Open Space Committee to identify, protect and prioritize the town’s natural, cultural, scenic and historic resources as well as future open-space and recreational needs. Several boards have weighed in on the plan.

The board also had plenty of input from residents: 60 residents participated in an October 2012 forum to identify areas of concern and 339 households — close to one-third of all in town — took part in a lengthy survey about the things they valued most about Shelburne.

Of those survey respondents, 77 percent ranked preserving the town’s rural agricultural character as “extremely important,” while only 5 percent thought it was unimportant. About 56 percent thought more access to river resources was important. The percentages of people who thought the following issues were either “very important” or “important” are as follows:

∎  Concern about the loss of agriculture lands, 83 percent.

∎  Keeping working open forest lands, 80 percent.

∎  Keeping farms economically viable, 88 percent.

∎  Increasing the rate of business/commercial development, 46 percent.

∎  How to best use the Glacial Potholes/riverfront area, 64 percent.

∎  Increasing residential development, 24 percent.

∎  Keeping wildlife habitats, 81 percent.

∎  Developing alternative energy sources, 73 percent.

∎  Regulating building development on ridge lines, 64 percent.

∎  Preserving scenic views, 73 percent.

∎  Protecting drinking water resources, well fields, aquifer recharge areas, 89 percent.

Of those responding, 71 percent had lived in town more than 10 years; 46 percent lived in the village of Shelburne Falls; 41 percent lived in rural areas; and 14 percent lived in the Shelburne Center village area.

The goals of the plan are:

∎  to preserve the agricultural, historic and small-town character of the town;

∎  to ensure preservation of the town’s natural resources; and

∎  to maintain or improve the quality and access to the town’s recreational resources.

The seven-year action plan for achieving these goals lists recommended steps in order of their importance and gives a rough schedule for when each step might start. The action plan includes nearly 100 steps to take place over the next seven years. These ideas range from organizing workshops for landowners on sound forest management to creating a picnic area and public playground. They also include a plan to work with the town’s Highway Department, to keep invasive plant species down, in fill dirt, or through roadside maintenance.

All comments must be either brought to the town clerk’s office or emailed to: openspace@townofshelburne.com.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

Please don't change the town. Keep it rural.

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