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Greenfield planning sustainable future

GREENFIELD — As a committee and several subcommittees move through a year-long process of creating a new sustainable master plan for the town, several words keep coming up: resilience, vibrancy and quality of life.

Charged with the mission of creating a vision of Greenfield’s future, as well as mapping out how the town will get there, the Greenfield Sustainable Master Plan Committee has been working to transform many of the ideas that came out of a townwide community visioning gathering in March, and anticipating another visioning session planned for later this month.

“Greenfield has been working on becoming greener for a while now,” said Susan Worgaftik, a member of the committee. “But sustainability is more than that. It involves a spirit of caring for our neighbors and doing what is the best for everyone.”

Nancy Hazard, another member of the committee, said “going green” means the town will have to come up with things it can do for years to come. “It means doing things that we can keep doing for millennia, that will also improve our land and our quality of life.”

Each of the subcommittees have had a different focus, including agriculture, natural resources, housing, education, tourism, creative economy and more.

“Greenfield is one of the most densely populated towns in Franklin County, but we also have excellent agricultural land and natural resources,” observed Precinct 2 Town Councilor Keith Zaltzberg, who is chairman of the land use subcommittee.

Zaltzberg said the goal will be to preserve and enhance present facilities, increasing resilience and quality of life while the town accommodates more people and businesses.

“Instead of looking at what land is available for growth, we have taken a different approach,” said Jen Stromsten, chairwoman of the housing subcommittee. “After learning about our limited land base, and that household size has decreased considerably over the past 20 years, we looked at developed land a new way.”

Stromsten said the subcommittee explored how Greenfield can increase the number of people who live in the area.

“We particularly see potential growth in manufacturing, food-related businesses, tourism, education and the creative economy,” said Planning Board Chairwoman Roxann Wedegartner, who also chairs the economic subcommittee.

Wedegartner said the work of her group has gone beyond discussing business development to how to attract businesses and the people who would work in them to Greenfield. She said the committee has to think about Greenfield as a place to both live and work.

“We must take advantage of our unique location at the crossroads of Route 2 and Interstate 91,” said Wedegartner. “The key is in effective marketing of Greenfield, something that has been lacking.”

George Touloumtzis, chairman of the transportation subcommittee, said it has been focused on how people move through the town.

“We want people to have more choice about how they get around, so that we have safer pedestrian and bicycling options, as well as increased public transit,” said Touloumtzis. “With these alternatives, and a shift to more environmentally friendly vehicles and driving habits, we can strive toward a truly multi-modal transportation system that serves a larger portion of the population, and is healthier for us as individuals, for the valley and the planet.”

Hazard said the facilities and services subcommittee has been exploring the potential of improving everyone’s quality of life by cutting energy use in homes and businesses.

“Greenfield already has many cultural and recreational opportunities, as well as a rich historical background,” said Greenfield Business Association Coordinator Caitlin von Schmidt, who chairs the natural, historic and cultural subcommittee.

“Now we need to find ways to up our cultural ante and to get the word out in order to let both residents and visitors know how much we have to offer.”

The next step for the Greenfield Sustainable Master Plan Committee is to hear again from community members at its fall gathering, which will be held Sept. 26 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Court Square on the Town Common.

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