News and Notes
Winter 2017

Staff Holiday Party - fireplace video and all!
Save the Date!
Mary L. Monahan
 
Quarterly Commission Meeting
CMRPC will be holding its next Quarterly Commission Meeting on Thursday March 9th. The topic of the meeting "MS4 Storm Water Permit: Opportunities and Challenges for Your Community" and the keynote speaker will be Mary L. Monahan, Associate/Director of Business Development at Fuss & O'Neill. To view the agenda, click here. To register for the event, click here.



CMRPC Annual Dinner
 Additionally, CMRPC will be holding its Annual D inner at the Blackstone National Golf Club in Sutton. The event is on June 8th and includes 18 holes of golf and a buffet dinner. Keep an eye out for an invitation as the event will require an RSVP.

Staff Contact: Connor Robichaud, 508-459-3310     
 


CPTC 16th Annual Spring Conference
The CPTC Spring Conference is the premier event for Massachusetts citizen and professional planners. Seventeen workshops are offered on timely subjects and core topics important to Planning Boards and Boards of Appeals. For more information, click here.

Transportation Manager, Mary Ellen Blunt Retires

As the Transportation Program Manager for the last ten years and a Planner in both the Transportation Program and Community Development and Planning Program, Mary Ellen Blunt is retiring after many years of service.  We all wish her well in her new endeavors.


New Hires!
Ron Barron, Associate Planner
Ron Barron joined CMRPC in January of 2017 after earning his 
MA from Clark University's Community Development and Planning program. While at Clark, he studied land use and economic development, interning with the Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD). At the same time, he did extensive consulting work with the Community Development training institute, working with non-profits and community leaders on grant development and strategic planning. Ron brings nearly a decade of project management experience in addition to his training in GIS, land use analysis and economic development planning. At CMRPC, Ron is undertaking projects in Green Energy, open space and recreation planning, and economic development planning, among other areas. 

Adam Menard, Associate Planner
Adam Menard joined CMRPC in January 2017 as an Assistant Planner for the  Regional Services Department. Currently pursuing his Master's Degree in Public Administration at Clark University.  Adam has worked with municipalities' for a number of years recently as the Assistant Town Clerk for the Town of Paxton, as well as an elected member of Leicester's Planning Board and was also a member of the Leicester Conservation Commission and currently serving on the Leicester Comprehensive Bylaw Review Committee. The current projects he is working on at CMRPC include Pre-Disaster Mitigation, Evacuation Plan, Homeland Security and Chemical Safety.


CMRPC Gives Back

CMRPC believes strongly in giving back to the communities within our region. This holiday season, we worked with several charitable organizations and the results were wonderful! CMRPC staff and friends of the commission came together to make donations to Toys for Tots, the Lions Club, Veterans Inc., and the Worcester County Food Bank. Thank you to all who donated!



COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING
Charlton Trolley Crossing Visioning Workshop

The Charlton Planning Board held a visioning workshop on Wednesday January 25, 2016 to discuss redevelopment opportunities of the Trolley Crossing, which is a retail and business area off Route 20 and Route 31 with over ten property owners and businesses. One of the properties is now vacant and the area also includes undeveloped land. The Planning Board funded this project and contracted CMRPC to create a workshop presentation on redevelopment and planning ideas, assist with facilitation of the workshop, and develop a summary report of the workshop.
 
Staff Contact: Jayne Armington, 508-459-3322
Rural towns plug in- Hardwick unveiling electric vehicle sharing station, hybrid vehicle
 
On February 16, 2017, the Town of Hardwick celebrated the installation of its first electric vehicle charging station and plug-in hybrid vehicle. Funding for the charging station and vehicle were made possible through the Green Communities Grant Program. An incentive was also provided from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) Workplace Charging Program. The vehicle and charger acquisitions represent an ongoing effort by Hardwick to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
 
In 2015, the Town achieved Green Communities    designation through the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Green Communities program. Since designation, the Town has undertaken numerous energy efficiency projects, from lighting and weatherization upgrades at municipal facilities to installation of fuel-saving devices in its vehicles. Funded through Hardwick's designation award, the measures are expected to reduce municipal energy consumption by twenty (20) percent over five (5) years.
 
According to Dominique DuTremble of the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC), "It's fabulous to see Hardwick - one of our most rural communities - embrace this technology. It speaks to a broad change in the perception of electric vehicles, growing trust in the technology, its reliability, importance." In 2015, CMRPC assisted Hardwick with its application to the Green Communities program and is currently administering the Town's subsequent grant. Since launching its Green Energy program in 2014, the Agency has helped seven (7) communities achieve Green Communities designation and access grant funding.
 
Hardwick Town Administrator Theresa Cofske noted, "DOER and MassEVIP have been instrumental to our goal of increasing resiliency. The funding and assistance they provided made municipal energy conservation feasible. Hardwick has fewer than 3,000 residents and a tight municipal budget. We've been able to do so much through this funding. It's going to save thousands of dollars every year."
 
Municipalities interested in the Green Communities program or other energy reduction projects are encouraged to contact Dominique DuTremble of CMRPC or visit www.mass.gov to find their Regional Green Communities Coordinator.

Staff Contact: Dominique DuTremble, 508-459-3336
Central Mass Adds 4 Newly Designated Green Communities

On February 2, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources ( DOER) conferred Green Communities status to thirty (30) new municipalities. Launched in 2010, the Green Communities program has helped 185 Massachusetts towns and cities reduce energy consumption, expenses, and emissions through grant-funding and technical assistance. To date, DOER has awarded over $65 million in grant funding to Green Communities-designated communities.

Of the newly designated municipalities, four (4) are located in Central Massachusetts. These towns include: Charlton, Northbridge, Southbridge, and Warren. CMRPC worked with each of these communities through its Green Energy Technical Assistance program, providing bylaw reviews, creation of energy reduction plans, and help with other Green Communities criteria. Collectively, the four towns have been awarded $706,955 in grant funding from DOER . These funds will be used help meet ambitious energy reduction goals, pursue sustainable development, and decrease dependency on nonrenewable energy sources. Charlton Town Administrator Robin Craver stated, "We are thrilled to have achieved Green Communities designation, and for the assistance CMRPC and DOER provided toward this goal. The projects we plan to undertake will enhance Charlton's ability to reduce energy use and spending." Eligible projects range from weatherization measures and lighting upgrades to electric vehicles and charging stations. 

Municipalities interested in the Green Communities program or other energy reduction projects are encouraged to contact Dominique DuTremble of CMRPC or visit www.mass.gov to find their Regional Green Communities Coordinator.

Staff Contact: Dominique DuTremble, 508-459-3336
West Brookfield Master Plan

The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) has been selected by the West Brookfield Master Plan Committee (MPC) to develop West Brookfield's first Master Plan!

 
 
The project will run for approximately 10 months and will include public outreach, a community wide survey, and the production of a plan that lays out a vision for a community's future over the next ten years, or more, and creates a roadmap to get there through goals and actions.  The main topics of a Master Plan include:
  1.      Land Use
  2.      Population and Housing
  3.      Economic Development
  4.      Natural and Cultural Resources
  5.      Open Space and Recreation
  6.      Transportation and Circulation
  7.      Town Services and Facilities
Over the next ten months, CMRPC will bring together as many West Brookfield residents and stakeholders as possible and will help the Town solicit public input on opportunities and challenges within the Town of West Brookfield and will create a Master Plan in the fall of 2017 identifying a series of goals, strategies, and recommendations.  Our entire team is excited to be part of such a great project. 
 
Starting March 3rd, c heck out our progress at the project website:  www.westbrookfieldmasterplan.com

Staff Contact: Jeff Bagg, 508-459-3342
Recreational Marijuana Public Meeting and Listening Session

On December 15, 2016, CMRPC held a "here's what we know" public meeting and listening session on The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.  Organized by Principal Planner Jeff Bagg, the meeting included a detailed overview of the components of the Act and a question and
 answer session.  It was attended by approximately 90 people representing 44 different communities from across the Commonwealth.  We have created a webpage containing related information and resources, including the letters from the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association (MMLA), Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB) and guidance from a top municipal law firm.  A link to the site is here:
 
In late December, the State Legislature extended key deadlines six months offering additional time for review by the Legislature and planning by municipalities.  Since that time, certain issues have started to take shape and preliminary guidance is being created, including approval of an 18 month moratorium approved by the Attorney General's office.  As an organization, CMRPC intends to continue to assist our member communities through the creation of model bylaws, workshops, Reginal Planning Agency working group, and sharing new information and identification of common approaches.
 
Stay tuned for more information!

Staff Contact: Jeff Bagg508-459-3342

TRANSPORTATION
Central Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization Transit Improvement Program Target Projects:
Performance-Based Retrospect (2010-2016)
& Future Outlook (2017-2021)

The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a federally mandated requirement for all Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). The TIP is a prioritized listing of all transportation investments in an MPO's metropolitan planning area for the next 5 federal fiscal years. Potential TIP projects are screened and selected by the CMMPO Advisory Committee before being endorsed by the CMMPO.
 
Transportation Performance Management (PM) is a planning tool that was signed into national legislation to guide investments which will improve the multi-modal transportation system. Mobility2040 is the CMMPO's Long Range Transportation Plan (RTP) that represents the agency's transition to performance-based planning. Since Mobility2040, the CMMPO has screened and ranked projects using performance measures that address the 10 federal emphasis areas including safety, security, state of good repair, and congestion.
 
The aim of the Performance-Based Retrospect was to understand the type of projects that will meet PM goals and serve to provide a high return on investment. The Retrospect rated projects from 2010 through 2021 using performance measures reflected by the federal emphasis areas. The PM score ranking is broken down into four tiers that reflect projects with higher scores relative to their regional significance and multidimensional capacity. The four tiers are Regionally Significant (16+), High Impact (11-15), Moderate Impact (6-10), and Low Impact (0-5). As project selection evolves more towards this new practice and future TIP projects feature higher PM scores, the region is anticipated to have an increase of multi-modal and multi-dimensional projects. At this time the measures are more focused on road and highway projects and less on transit. Ranking projects under the PM rubric does not address regional equity as urban projects appear to almost always rank higher than rural projects. This new Performance-Based Planning process will ultimately give the CMMPO a clearer vision on what projects will meet the region's Performance Management goals.
 
 
Staff Contact: Kevin Krasnecky, 508-459-3314
NECCOG and CMMPO Public Transportation Needs Survey
 
In conjunction with the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (NECCOG), the Central Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization (CMMPO) completed a Public Transportation Needs survey to collect resident feedback and ideas about the need for public transportation service between bordering communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The eleven question survey asked respondents to provide demographic information, how often they currently take public transportation, potential use (days and times) of cross border public transportation, specific communities that transportation is needed to, and reliance on others for transportation.
 
The survey received nearly 300 responses between mid-October and early January. The survey was focused towards collecting online responses, but were available in paper format at various locations in Dudley, Southbridge, Webster
and five communities in Connecticut. Data analysis of the survey results are currently underway and a final report will be available in the upcoming weeks before deciding on the next steps. Overall, the survey served as an example of neighboring regional planning agencies working together to identify potential solutions to local issues.


Staff Contact: Nick Burnham, 508-459-3338
Pavement Surveys

Over the summer of 2016, the CMRPC transportation staff surveyed 421 miles of roadway, 2492 ADA ramp locations and 118 miles of sidewalks in the region as part of the annual transportation data collection effort. The data collected will be included in the 2016 Regional Pavement Plan scheduled to be completed in February of 2017. In 2016, data was collected in the Southeast and Southwest sub regions and in 2017, West and Northwest sub regions will also be surveyed.
 



Staff Contact: Rob Raymond, 508-459-3323
"Blackstone Valley Regional Freight Rail Planning Study & Feasibility Analysis" Project Summary Complete
 
Agency staff is pleased to announce the release of the completed "Blackstone Valley Regional Freight Rail Planning Study & Feasibility Analysis" Project Summary and accompanying technical appendices.  This effort, kicked-off by the agency's Community Development and Planning (CDAP) staff in 2015, has been recently finished and is now available on the CMRPC website.  After hosting three major public outreach meetings and conducting numerous host community meetings as well as site visits in each of the participating towns, CMRPC planner Eric Smith, who commenced the Blackstone Valley freight effort, went onto another employment position in mid-2016.  As such, available members of the transportation staff, led by Project Manager Rich Rydant, were entrusted to complete the study documentation.
 
Concise in nature, the Blackstone Valley Regional Freight Rail Planning Study project summary contains an overview, methodology, and overall findings along with a listing of conclusions and recommendations.  The study includes materials customized to each participating Valley community:  Grafton, Millbury, Millville, Sutton and Uxbridge.  
 
Extensive accompanying technical appendix materials cover five major components of the area-wide study:
  1.    Best Practices
  2.    Host Community and Industry Detail Sheets
  3.    Stakeholder Outreach
  4.    Enhancing Municipal Planning, and
  5.    Management System Community Profiles
The latter, previously compiled by the transportation staff, includes a broad range of materials including traffic counts, truck volume percentages, congestion, pavement, safety and multi-modal information.
 
Although Blackstone Valley rail transportation provider Providence & Worcester Railroad was recently sold to Genesee & Wyoming Rail Services, a copy of the study will be provided to the new company management as staff works to forge a lasting relationship with the G&W.  Additionally, the completed effort will also be provided to the MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning (OTP) to be used as a reference in the compilation of both the statewide railroad and freight plans, now under simultaneous development.

 
Staff Contact:  Rich Rydant, 508-459-3312
CMMPO's First Annual Performance Management Year in Review Report Card
  
As 2016 came to a close, staff at CMRPC completed the first Annual Performance Management Year in Review Report Card for 10/1/15 - 10/1/16.  Mobility2040 is the CMMPO's Long Range Transportation Plan that represents the agency's transition to performance-based planning as directed by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and affirmed by the more recent FAST-ACT.  This first Annual Performance Management Year in Review Report Card is the CMMPO's forward-looking approach to keep plans and projects apace of MAP-21's federal priorities and rules set to take effect on 10/1/2018.
  
The Report Card rated the agency in different areas under the ten federal transportation emphasis planning areas: Safety, Security, State of Good Repair, Congestion/Mobility, Multimodal Options, Reducing Greenhouse Gases & Promoting Sustainability, Equitable Transportation, Economic Vitality & Freight Movement, Stormwater Management & Resiliency, and Travel & Tourism.  Furthermore, the Report Card tracks and summarizes the objectives, targets and data needed to achieve each major goal under the ten federal emphasis areas.  In addition to reporting agency progress, the Report Card also serves as a guide for future data collection, establishing appropriate baselines and GIS analysis, all meant to align the CMMPO's activities under performance-based planning.    
  
Overall, the results from the Report Card reflect a balanced mix of improving trends, worsening trends and areas where further data analysis or baselines are needed to accurately report on trend progress.  When the federal rules take effect on 10/1/18, these Performance Measures will continue to evolve as the CMMPO coordinates with MassDOT on processes to determine goals, objectives, metrics and targets.  The Report Card will be posted on CMRPC's website soon; however you may obtain a copy of the Report Card anytime by contacting Melissa Santley
 

Staff Contact: Melissa Santley508-459-3341

REGIONAL SERVICES
Regional Brownfields Plan

CMRPC is accepting comments on its Regional Brownfields Plan through the end of February. The plan is intended to assess the overall scope of the brownfields issue in Central Massachusetts and its communities, locate neighborhoods where possible brownfields are concentrated, identify priority sites mostly within those neighborhoods, and outline next steps and resource requirements for moving affected neighborhoods and key sites into productive reuse. The draft plan is available online at www.cmrpc.org/regional-brownfields-plan. This project was funded in part through District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA).


Staff Contact: Andrew Loew, 508-459-3339
Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning: 13 Down, 27 to Go
 
CMRPC recently completed hazard mitigation plans for thirteen of our communities - Blackstone, Douglas, Holden, Hopedale, Mendon, Millville, Oxford, Paxton, Princeton, Sutton, West Brookfield and WestboroughMost of these have been adopted locally and approved by FEMA, with the remainder expected in the upcoming weeks.
 
As a complement to that project, in August, FEMA and MEMA awarded CMRPC a $151,875 grant to develop five-year plan update s for twenty-seven communities that were participants in CMRPC's  2012 Region-wide Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan. CMRPC will complete community-specific updated plans so that these towns and cities continue to be eligible for FEMA hazard mitigation and enhanced disaster recovery funds
 
Participating communities in the new round include Auburn, Barre, Berlin, Boylston, Brookfield, Charlton, Dudley, East Brookfield, Hardwick, Leicester, Millbury, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Northborough, Northbridge, Oakham, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Upton, Uxbridge, Warren, Webster, West Boylston, and Worcester. Initial work is now underway in five communities, including Worcester. Updated community plans will be produced in batches throughout the grant period, which ends in 2019.

For more information, contact Andrew Loew or Derrick Mathieu.
Massachusetts Statewide Stormwater Collaborative 

CMRPC has engaged in an exciting 
partnership with six Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Groups, Massachusetts Department of  Environmental Protection  (MassDEP) and United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support and facilitate the recently established Massachusetts Statewide Stormwater Coalition. The state-wide group will promote resource and tool development and sharing across regions and help regulated municipalities meet terms of the Massachusetts Stormwater (MS4) permit at the least cost possible. 

Project activities will support and enhance the MS4 permit implementation for years one to year three of the permit. CMRPC is excited to work with municipalities across the state to help them meet the terms of their MS4 permit through increased collaboration.  Recently, CMRPC staff worked to collect surveys with MassDEP at the Massachusetts Municpal Association (MMA) Conference.

For more information, visit the temporary stormwater website .

Staff Contact: Trish Settles, 508-459-3320

Thanks for checking in with CMRPC!