Fall Newsletter
In This Issue
New WRTA Facility
Complete Streets
Bicycle Parking Program
P&W Railroad
Disaster Planning
Stormwater Coalition
Expanding Energy Program
Charlton Open Space and Recreation Plan
Historic Resources in Sturbridge
Sturbridge Open Space Bylaw
Village Center Zoning
Worcester Parking Study
CM Gets in Motion
Grafton Bike/Ped
Low Impact Development
One Quick Question

W elcome to our Fall Newsletter!   We aim to keep you informed and up-to-date on a variety of Commission projects and activities.
CMMPO's Mobility2040 Receives Platinum Rating with INVEST:  FHWA's Sustainability Analysis Tool
Staff at the Central  Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) decided to  use   Massachusetts  FHWA's Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST) to assess the sustainability of the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), Mobility 2040 The agency scored Mobility2040 using the System Planning for Regions (SPR) Module and received a score of 145 out of a possible 240 points. The SPR Module provides 17 distinct criteria of self-evaluation through a sustainable framework for an agency's system level of planning, procedures, processes and programming. 

Although the agency  received the highest rating for INVEST, the overall score of 145 places the  agency one point above the threshold for reaching Platinum status, there is always room for improvement. For example, Mobility2040  falls somewhat short on monitoring progress and demonstrating sustainable outcomes in each criterion within the SPR Module. Additionally, the agency could conduct further analyses related to Linking Asset Management and Planning and Infrastructure Resiliency. 

It is anticipated that for the next LRTP, there will be still more of a focus on performance management and monitoring progress as per the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21Planning for Performance Management ruling.  Each of the 17 INVEST criteria within the SPR Module could be used as a guide to direct the agency to select and evaluate data, measurements and outcomes that can lead to sustainable results as well as inform the Performance Management process.  Mobility2040 was particularly successful in areas related to Access and Affordability and Analysis Methods. The overall results will be used to identify areas of refinement and expansion for the next LRTP and to immediately incorporate more sustainability best practices in the planning process.

For more information contact Melissa Santley.

Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) Celebrates Completion of new Maintenance and Operations Facility

WRTA Administrator  Jonathan  E. Church welcomed federal, state and local officials as well as community residents to WRTA's new Maintenance and Operations (M&O) facility at 42 Quinsigamond Avenue in Worcester on October 4.  Participants in this ribbon-cutting event celebrated   completion of the $90 million, 156,000 square foot state-of-the-art transit facility,which replaces the WRTA's aged M&O facility at 287 Grove Street.  It features modern indoor and outdoor vehicle storage, maintenance, administrative offices, operations dispatching, and community space that will further the WRTA's recent fleet and passenger facility upgrades.  The facility's construction also achieved long-standing City and  community goals for remediating an 11-acre urban brownfield and adding overflow parking for Crompton Park events in Worcester's Green Island neighborhood.  

Speakers included William  Lethola, WRTA Advisory Board Chair; U.S. Congressman James O. McGovern, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, State Senators Harriette L. Chandler and Michael O. Moore, State Representative Daniel M. Donahue;  Frederick C. Rushton, Worcester City Councilor-at-Large, speaking on behalf of Mayor Joseph Petty; Sarai Rivera, Worcester City Councilor, District Four; Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr.; Kristin Wood, speaking on behalf of FTA Region 1 Administrator Mary Beth Mello, and Tim Murray, President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

Speakers highlighted the efforts of many individuals, including former WRTA Administrator Stephen O'Neil, current WRTA Administrator Church and Assistant Administrator Tom Coyne in their specific efforts to work through the project's various financial and technical challenges.  It is with pride that we note that CMRPC staff was instrumental in preparing a $39 million FTA grant application for this project which was subsequently awarded to make this facility possible!

The CMRPC staff looks forward to the WRTA's activation of the new facility and its employees' ongoing commitment to improve the region's public transportation services. 

For more information, contact Todd Fontanella.
Complete Streets Update
A Complete Street is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes: walking, bicycling, transit, and vehicles, for people of all ages and abilities. Improvements related to Complete Streets can take many forms, from corridor wide projects, to smaller-scale fixes that are focused on a single mode of travel. 

There are three tiers for entry into the MassDOT program: (1) Complete Streets Policy Development, (2) Complete Streets Prioritization Plan Development, and (3) Project Approval and Notice to Proceed for Construction.  CMRPC Transportation Staff have been working with approximately 16 communities in the region regarding Complete Streets policy implementation, planning, and prioritization. Policies have been adopted in the following municipalities: Barre, Charlton, Mendon, Oxford, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Spencer, and West Boylston

Tier II Prioritization work is currently taking place in the Town of Spencer, with a number of other towns showing interest in working with CMRPC to move forward in the program. Staff has helped municipalities tailor policies to fit the character of the town while reflecting the ten key policy elements provided in MassDOT guidance. MassDOT will score adopted policies based on their stated level of commitment to aligning transportation infrastructure planning, design, construction and maintenance practices to Complete Streets principles. Policies need a score of 80/100 possible points to be eligible for funding through the program. CMRPC Staff would be happy to discuss policy development with member municipalities, or any other aspect of the Complete Streets Funding Program.

For more information, contact  Dan Daniska.
Bicycle Parking Program Update
The City of Worcester and the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) wish to remind you of the Bicycle Parking Program for the Central Massachusetts region. CMRPC member communities and related public entities are eligible for the program which runs through March of 2017.

Racks can be installed on public property such as libraries, town halls, schools, parks, etc. This program provides full reimbursement of the cost of purchasing bicycle racks, minus the shipping and installation costs. Installation and shipping costs will be borne by agencies/municipalities as part of the local match for funding.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will provide $100,000 of Transportation Alternatives Program funding through the City of Worcester. Municipalities may order racks through the approved bicycle parking vendors. For your convenience, the City of Worcester has put all of the instructions and the required forms on the City website.

Interested parties should go to: Worcester's Bike Rack Project Web Page and review the materials there. Please contact Dan Daniska with any questions or for further guidance.
Sale of Providence & Worcester Railroad Pending
It was announced in August that Worcester-based Providence & Worcester Railroad (P&W) will be purchased by the Genesee & Wyoming (G&W) Inc., a U.S.-based short-line railroad holding company.  The sale price agreed to is approximately $126 million, or $25 per stockholder share.  The sale is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2016, subject to approval by the P&W's common and preferred shareholders, satisfaction of certain regulatory approvals, including that of the federal Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and Surface Transportation Board (STB), and other customary closing conditions.  Although the P&W was apparently courted by a number of potential buyers, the G&W was ultimately the successful bidder.
The sale of the P&W comes after 40 years of independent operations,  as the company had been previously controlled for decades by the New Haven Railroad and, later, the Penn Central Transportation Company .  Robert Eder,
Chairman and CEO of the P&W, decided it was time to sell the railroad.  Mr. Eder indicated the following when the sale was publically announced: "Becoming part of the Genesee & Wyoming family with its record of emphasis on safety and investment in its rail infrastructure ensures that (the) Company will continue to provide the quality of service which our customers and the communities we serve have enjoyed over the 40+ years..."
Headquartered in Worcester, P&W operates in the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York over a rail network in excess of 500 miles.  This includes 163 miles of track owned by the P&W as well as 350 miles under track access agreements.  The network stretches from Gardner, MA to Providence, RI and from Worcester to New York City.  Further, the P&W enjoys exclusive freight access over Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (NEC) between New Haven, CT and Providence, RI.  A major railroad holding company, P&W purchaser G&W owns or leases 121 freight railroads around the globe.  They employ approximately 7,200 persons and serve over 2,800 customers using rail freight transportation.  In the U.S., G&W railroads operate in 41 states over more than 13,000 miles of track.  Continuous lines owned by the G&W include the New England Central Railroad.
The CMRPC staff has  enjoyed an excellent 
working relationship with P&W  management since the 1970's.  Work was conducted on a number of efforts, ranging from the investigation of potential passenger rail service to, most recently, assisting with the submittal of a number of grant applications seeking federal funds for track improvements within the planning region.  Special thanks and best wishes to both pass and present P&W staff including Scott Conti, Frank Rogers, Charles Rennick, Wendy Lavely, Patti Danshire, Marie Angelini and Heidi Eddins as well as the late Orville Harrold.
CMRPC will host what is planned to be the last official P&W shareholder's meeting to be held in late October.  Looking ahead, staff anticipates building relationships with the management of the Genesee & Wyoming.  

For more information, refer to the P&W corporate website.
Municipal Collaboration and Regional Services
Regional Brownfields Plan
Brownfields -  abandoned or underutilized properties
affected by contamination or the perception of contamination - are an unfortunate legacy of Central Massachusetts' industrial heyday. The Regional Brownfields 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. CMRPC's brownfields advisory committee will be reconstituted this fall to provide input on the planning process, with an ongoing function to serve as the region's occasional round-table for brownfields information sharing. This project is funded through District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA)

For more information, contact Andrew Loew.
Disaster Planning for 13 communities plus 27 Equal Hazard Mitigation Plans for all of CMRPC!
CMRPC is wrapping up the completion (by January 2017) of hazard mitigation plans for thirteen of our communities - Grafton, Princeton, Sutton, Millville, West Brookfield, Paxton, Westborough, Oxford, Holden, Blackstone, Douglas, and Mendon.  When approved by MEMA/FEMA and adopted by each town, the municipalities will be eligible for a variety of funds to implement identified strategies.

As a complement to that project, in August, FEMA awarded CMRPC a $151,875 grant to develop a five-year plan update to the existing Central Massachusetts Region-wide Pre-Disaster Mitigation ( PDM) Plan for twenty-seven (27) of its forty (40) member communities. CMRPC will work with participating communities to prepare the updated Hazard Mitigation Plan in order for these communit ies to continue to be eligible for  FEMA Hazard Mitigation 'project' funds .  CMRPC completed the original plan in 2012.

On November 15, CMRPC will host a region wide disaster planning workshop from 10am to 12:30 in Union Station, 2nd Floor to provide a region wide overview of our emergency and disaster planning efforts and how we can work with towns to ensure the greatest benefit to the region.

For more information, contact Andrew Loew.
Community Development and Planning
CMRPC to Administer Massachusetts Statewide Stormwater Coalition
CMRPC is engaging in an exciting partnership with six Massachusetts regional stormwater groups, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) 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.  CMRPC will specifically work to:
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito addresses the MA Statewide Stormwater Group at their September 27th meeting
  • Create and support framework for a Statewide Collaborative
  • Compile tools and materials to support MS4 implementation
  • Assist the Coalition to identify additional tools and/or materials which are needed by regulated communities.

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. 

For more information about this project or about how CMRPC can assist your municipality with stormwater, please contact Danielle Mucciarone.  
CMRPC Continues to Expand Energy Program throughout the Region
CMRPC was recently awarded $37,500 in funding through the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Municipal Energy Technical Assistance (META) Program. Using these funds, CMRPC will assist Leicester and Oxford with the Green Communities Designation Process, and the towns Barre, Dudley, Hardwick, Millville and Upton with Green Communities Grant Activities. 
CMRPC staff member Danielle Mucciarone and Kelly Brown of DOER test drive an electric vehicle at a recent event in Worcester.
The META Grant Program provides  funding for expert consultants and contractors, including regional planning agencies such as CMPRC, to assist with a diverse array of local energy projects.  These grants represent further growth of CMRPC's budding energy program, which includes not only Green Communities designation assistance and grant administration but also behavioral energy reduction plans, energy tax credit coordination, potential procurement opportunities, LED st reetlight retrofits, electric vehicles, and energy aggregation.
Since 2014, CMRPC has helped Dudley, Upton, and Hardwick achieve the Green Community designation.  Additionally, the Commission is currently working on various energy projects with the communities of Auburn, Barre, Charlton, Dudley, Hardwick, New Braintree, Northbridge, Southbridge, Warren, and West Brookfield.
The Green Communities Program helps Massachusetts cities and towns find clean energy solutions that reduce long-term energy costs and strengthen local economies. To become designated, a municipality must meet five (5) criteria, including as-of-right siting of renewable or alternative energy facilities; adopting an expedited permitting process for the energy facilities; developing an energy use baseline and 20% energy reduction plan; purchasing only fuel-efficient municipal vehicles; and adopting an energy efficient "stretch" building code.

Municipalities interested in the Green Communities program or other energy reduction projects are encouraged to contact Danielle Mucciarone  or visit www.mass.gov to find their Regional Green Communities Coordinator.
Charlton Open Space and Recreation Plan
Charlton is in the process of updating its Open Space and Recreation Plan with CMRPC staff assistance. Charlton residents had an opportunity to share thoughts regarding open space and recreation issues, opportunities and needs on a survey that was released in the summer of 2016 and will be able to provide further comments during the community forum that is scheduled for 
October 26, 2016 at 7:00 pm at the Town Hall.  The purpose of the year-long planning 
process is to develop town goals, objectives, and action items for open space and recreation for 2017-2024. Once the OSRP is adopted, Charlton will become eligible for numerous state, federal, and private foundation grant opportunities for park and conservation projects. Funding for this planning project was provided by the Town of Charlton.

For more information, contact Jayne Armington
Inventory of Historic Resources in Sturbridge
In conjunction with staff at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) , CMRPC is working with the Sturbridge Historical Commission to add   around 100 resources to Sturbridge's inventory of historic buildings, areas and structures. Sturbridge's inventory has not been comprehensively updated since the 1970s. Staff will be updating information to some existing buildings and area forms but will spend most of their time inventorying buildings that did not make  it on the original list. Each building receives a description of its architectural features  and an evaluation 
of its characteristics in terms of other buildings within the community. This is followed by a discussion of the history of the building, including an explanation of the use of the building over time as well as the role the owners or occupants played within the community. The Town of Sturbridge received a 50/50 matching grant thro ugh the Massachusetts Historical Commission Survey and Planning Grant Program to fund work on this project.

For more information, contact Jayne Armington
Updates to Sturbridge's Open Space Residential Development Bylaw
The Town of Sturbridge asked CMRPC to review two of its bylaws-an Open Space Residential Development Bylaw and Multiple Dwelling Project bylaw-to determine if they need to be amended and/or combined in order for the town to accomplish the goal of providing diversity in housing stock and preserving open space through new housing developments. CMRPC completed its review of both  bylaws and 
recommended eliminating the Multiple Dwelling Project Bylaw. CMRPC staff has continued work with the Town of Sturbridge on proposed updates to the Open Space Residential Design bylaw that would allow single family attached, two family and multi-family structures by special permit in addition to allowing single family detached homes in a clustered setting by-right. Now that existing subdivisions in Sturbridge are nearing full build-out, Sturbridge expects renewed subdivision interest and hopes that an updated OSRD will guide the next wave of housing development in the community. 

CMRPC staff will present a final draft of proposed amendments at the Planning Board's December 2016 meeting. This project is being funded through District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) Grant from the State of Massachusetts.

For more information, contact Jayne Armington
Village Center Zoning 
CMRPC Principal Planner, Jeff Bagg, has been assisting the Towns of Upton and Sutton in their efforts to prepare a Village Center Zoning Bylaw. Each community is unique in its character and many aspects of the zoning provisions are being tailored to fit the community's needs, goals, size, and character.

In Sutton,  Mr. Bagg has been attending open work sessions with Town Planner Jen Hager and assisting an ad hoc working group of interested  citizens  with the creation 
of a preservation-based;  small scale overlay district for historic Sutton Center. In Upton, under the leadership of the Town Manager Blythe Robinson  and the Planning Board Mr. Bagg has presented a two tiered village center  bylaw proposal for Upton Center  and West  Upton  at two well  attended public forums. 
Both communities are eager to continue the creation of village center zoning proposals for consideration at spring Town Meeting.

In addition, Mr. Bagg continues to compile and refine a Model Village Center Bylaw and Design Guidelines document for use by other communities interested in pursuing similar efforts. Some of the primary goals of creating a Village Center Bylaw are to provide new economic development opportunities and greater vibrancy in areas where infrastructure and services already exist. It can promote the development of new housing units in areas where existing commercial zoning does not allow new units, and, it can create new developments and patterns that follow traditional New England villages in terms of design, scale, mix of uses, and visual character.
Through the use of "build-to" setbacks, requirements for parking to be behind new buildings, building and site design guidelines, and allowing mixed uses and modest increases in density, existing commercial areas or underutilized lots can made more viable and more likely to be redeveloped or re-activated.  CMRPC is excited to continue to work on this project with Upton, Sutton, and other communities in the future.

For more information, contact   Jeff Bagg
Worcester Parking Study
The first of its kind for CMRPC, Principal Planner Jeff Bagg, is preparing a parking and transit study for three areas of downtown Worcester; the Canal District, the Theater District, and Shrewsbury Street.  The study will provide a parking and transit inventory, a parking utilization study, and a set of written recommendations for the City to utilize in supporting and advancing its tremendous economic development activity. 

The project includes  a detailed inventory of existing public and private parking facilities using CMRPC's in-house Geographic Information Services (GIS) expertise.  With the assistance of interns from Clark University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), parking utilization data will be collected for public lots, private lots, and on-street parking in the three districts over 12 hours on a typical weekday and a typical weekend day.  Finally, a set of recommendations and summary of best practices will enable the City to further plan for and create the vision of downtown Worcester as an 18 hour hub of activity. 

For more information, contact   Jeff Bagg
Central Mass Gets in Motion
In September 2016, CMRPC completed the first phase of the Central Mass Indicators Project, funded by the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB) and State Department of Public Health (DPH). In alignment with the Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and Leadership Program, this project allowed CMRPC to help our communities increase healthy living options for residents.
Mass in Motion is a statewide initiative that supports healthy living opportunities, and funds over 60 communities across the Commonwealth. Currently, out of the 40 member communities in the CMRPC region, only two participate in the Mass in Motion program. This gap alone calls for the promotion of Mass in Motion strategies across the region. CMRPC worked with the towns of Barre, Blackstone, and Charlton to select indicators that provide insight into how well their community promotes healthy eating and active living. Several of the data points assessed include:
  • Access to Transportation
  • WRTA Bus Routes
  • Pavement Conditions
  • Walk Trips per Household
  • Adult Participation in Regular Physical Activity
  • Healthy Food Options
  • Food Deserts
  • Number of Fitness Centers
  • Number of Play Areas
Interested in building an indicator for your municipality? Want to integrate health planning into your community goals? For more information about this project or about how CMRPC can assist, please contact Hoamy Tran.
CMRPC Assists CMRPHA-Town of Grafton with Bicycle/Pedestrian Planning
In July 2016, CDAP and 
Transportation staff developed a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan for the Town of Grafton. The Plan provided an analysis of existing bike and pedestrian facilities within the town, analyzed results from town surveys, and identified areas for improvement within the town. It also includes future bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure needs, zoning policies and sub-division regulations for new and redevelopment and recommendations on improving and encouraging multi-modal transportation. Data collection efforts included survey distribution, focus group sessions surrounding the town's participation in the Safe Routes to School Program , fieldwork, and discussions with town staff and local bike/ped advocates. This project was in collaboration with the Worcester Public Health Department and funded by the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB) and State Department of Public Health.
If you are interested in developing a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan for your community, or other livability projects, please contact Dan Daniska.  
CMRPC Assists Municipalities with Low Impact Development
CMRPC is working on three projects to help communities incorporate Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure into municipal regulations. Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development (LID) techniques reduce stormwater runoff by storing, infiltrating and recharging stormwater on site. 

Mass Watershed Coalition's Ed Himlan and Sturbridge's Conservation Agent Glenn Colburn participate in a site visit at the Old Sturbridge Village Parking Lot where stormwater pollution is a  concern due to excessive sediment.
Sturbridge 604b Stormwater Grant
In June 2015 CMRPC was awarded a 604(b) grant from the M assachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to help the Town of Sturbridge encourage Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development (LID). The project involves helping the town incorporate LID into their regulations, conducting a stormwater education event at Old Sturbridge Village and working with Old Sturbridge Village to create a conceptual design for the OSV main visitor parking lot, which has been identified as having existing stormwater runoff issues. These activities are designed to improve water quality throughout the Town, which drains into the Quinebaug River Watershed. This project is scheduled to be completed in July 2017.

Blackstone Nutrient Reduction grant
In partnership with Mass Audubon and Horsley Witten Group, CMRPC recently helped five communities in the Blackstone River Watershed incorporate Low Impact Development into local regulations. The project involved an in-depth zoning review followed by recommendations for improvement to ensure regulations are not prohibitive to Low Impact Development.  Through this program we worked closely with Auburn, Grafton, Mendon, and Worcester to create regulation recommendations, and with the town of Millbury to help create a Green Infrastructure Plan for their downtown. 

Mass Environmental Trust Grant with Mass Audubon
CMRPC will partner with Mass Audubon to assist them with a project to deliver workshops, tours, and direct municipal technical assistance and advice to communities throughout this region. The goal of this project is to motivate and assist 40 communities in central Massachusetts to support Low Impact Development (LID) as the preferred method of development under local plans and land use regulations. It is designed to address the pervasive  problems  of sprawl style development that is costly both environmentally and in terms of municipal infrastructure costs. CMRPC
CMRPC staff educate about the effects of stormwater pollution at Old Sturbridge Village's Earth Day Event
 will participate in the planning, promotion, and delivery of the workshops and tours, distribution of LID educational information, and in five technical assistance meetings with municipal officials or staff. CMRPC also is available to provide additional planning services to participating communities and assist with regulatory and other tools for implementation of solutions. We are excited to partner with Mass Audubon on this new project.

For more information about how we can work with your community to incorporate LID, contact Danielle Mucciarone.
T hanks for your interest in CMRPC!
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