Spring 2018 Newsletter
CMRPC Office Move
On Saturday, January 27, 2018, CMRPC moved from its office space at 2 Washington Square, Union Station to the  UNUM building at 1 Mercantile Street . As a prominent transportation hub in the City of Worcester, Union Station had been a great home to our agency for the past decade. We are thankful to have had the opportunity to work in Union Station.
 
Over the past ten years, CMRPC has worked to increase the number of planning services it provides to our member communities. Accordingly, CMRPC has experienced significant internal growth in the number of dedicated staff members, from 22 to 32 full-time staff members. To read more about our most recent new hires, pictured below, please click here .

CMRPC is pleased to remain centrally located within Worcester’s Central Business District, and we welcome you to visit our new space. Public parking is available in the  Worcester Common Garage   and at the  Mercantile Center Garage .
55th Annual Dinner & Awards Ceremony
On Thursday, June 14, 2018, CMRPC will host the 55th Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony at Cyprian Keyes Golf Club in Boylston - 284 E. Temple Street.

Doors will open at 5:00 pm when guests are invited to celebrate our 55th Anniversary! The duo Little Black Dress will accompany a buffet dinner and awards presentation. We look forward to seeing everyone out for a fun evening of networking.

A Best Ball Golf Tournament will precede dinner. Tee times begin at 11:00 am with a fee of $40 to be paid at the door or by sending a check to CMRPC - 1 Mercantile Street - Suite 520 in Worcester, MA 01608. Click here to register or email Andrea Lettic at alettic@cmrpc.org .
Regional Collaboration & Community Planning
CMRPC Receives $300,000 in Brownfields Grants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded CMRPC with $300,000 in two Brownfields Grants for community-wide environmental assessments in Worcester County. One is a $200,000 Community-Wide Hazardous Substances Grant, which will provide CMRPC with the funds to conduct six Phase I and four Phase II environmental assessments in the area. The second is a $100,000 Community-Wide Petroleum Grant that enables CMRPC to conduct three Phase I and two Phase II environmental site assessments.

Click here to read the full article on the EPA website.
Take Part in the Central MA Region's CEDS
The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce has been awarded a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) grant from the U. S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). With your help, this CEDS will become an all-encompassing plan for economic development that envelopes input from the 40 communities of the Central Massachusetts Region.

A CEDS enables people, businesses, local governments, schools and private industry to take part in conversations that will unearth which capacity building efforts would best serve economic development. To have your voice heard, please click here to take the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis survey.
Quabbin Educational and Municipal Partnership (QEMP)
Barre, Hardwick, Hubbardston, New Braintree, and Oakham are involved with CMRPC, MRPC, Quabbin Regional School Administration, Quabbin Regional School Committee and the Quabbin Consolidation Task Force to evaluate and consider strategies for improving the sustainability of the Quabbin Regional School District, including the following components:
 
  • Scenario planning for building re-use
  • Regional shared-service strategies
  • Economic development strategies that are regional and town specific
  • Inter-school district exploration

The group recently worked together to apply for Efficiency & Regionalization Grant funding for a Regional Economic Development Coordinator. Thanks to contributions from each town (especially Hardwick's Town Administrator, Theresa Cofske) the grant was awarded to fully fund the first year of the position. This represents a terrific united effort and a huge win for the Quabbin Region that we think is a harbinger for more cooperation and success for these towns.
Open Space and Recreation Planning
Open Space and Recreation Plans (OSRPs) allow a municipality to maintain and enhance all of the benefits of open space that make up much of a community's character and protect the town’s “green infrastructure,” such as working farms and forests, wildlife habitats, parks, recreation areas, trails, greenways and water-supply land. Municipalities are required to submit OSRPs to the Massachusetts Division of Conservation Services (DCS) in order to qualify for State program funding for acquisition and protection of open space lands and recreational facilities. Careful open space and recreation planning is crucial for preserving resources while building and leveraging existing recreational opportunities and experiences for the community.

CMRPC staff members are available to assist municipalities with open space, recreation and natural resource planning in a number of ways, including the development of the Open Space and Recreation Plans and/or Master Plan Chapters, as well as project planning, data collection, GIS mapping, Plan updates, and Plan review. Among other requirements of the Plan is a letter from the Regional Planning Agency that indicates satisfactory review and consistency with regional planning efforts. CMRPC is engaged with four communities on open space, recreation and natural resource planning including Grafton, Millville, Sturbridge, and Brookfield:

  • Grafton: Staff members are working with the OSRP Committee and Town Staff to update the 2007 Open Space and Recreation Plan. The Project Team is currently finalizing the Seven-Year Action Plan that provides guidance for future purchases and development of open space and recreational resources.

  • Millville: Staff members are working with Millville on the development of the Town’s first Open Space and Recreation Plan. On April 12, the Millville OSRP Committee held a Public Forum at Town Hall to review the plan goals and gather local input. 

  • Sturbridge: CMRPC is working with the Sturbridge OSRP Committee and Planning Department to update the 2011 Open Space and Recreation Plan. As part of this project, the town launched a photo contest inviting residents of all ages to submit original photos of their favorite open space and recreation areas. On April 11, the Sturbridge OSRP Committee held a Public Forum at the Publick House Historic Inn to review survey results and community feedback. Photo contest winners were chosen by a public vote. Congratulations to Michelle Moran, the Best in Show winner, for her photograph featured above called Sunset. Click here to view a slideshow of all winning photos.

  • Brookfield: CMRPC is engaged with the Town of Brookfield, the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration (MOPC), and DCR to plan and coordinate a series of public forums in the community. The MOPC is a research center and the state office that works with public agencies and local communities as a neutral forum for dispute resolution, consensus-building, and public engagement. MOPC will host a series of deliberative-dialogue forums to better understand the concerns, interests, and tensions at play in Brookfield related to open space, natural resources, and recreation. In this dialogue setting, participants are encouraged to share what matters to them and to dig into the complexities and trade-offs of different approaches to dealing with an issue. This will also help Brookfield lay the groundwork for the OSRP Update that CMRPC will develop.

In addition, CMRPC assisted Charlton and West Boylston in completing their own Open Space and Recreation Plan Updates. With help from CMRPC, these two towns were granted conditional approval from the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), thereby gaining access to grants made available by the DCS.
Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness
Given previous and ongoing events such as recent hurricanes, the drought of 2016 and the current winter into spring, we find ourselves in a new era of unpredictable and severe weather that can potentially cause damage to our communities. In September 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed Executive Order 569, instructing state government to provide assistance to cities and towns in Massachusetts to complete climate change vulnerability assessments and resiliency planning. The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program (MVP) is a direct result of the Governor’s charge, which provides financial and technical resources for cities and towns to begin the process of resiliency planning.

CMRPC is currently partnering with the Towns of Northbridge, Grafton, and Millbury to identify and prioritize steps that will reduce risk and improve resilience to natural hazards across the three communities, both individually and collectively as a sub-region. The project is one of two regional projects in the state, supported through a FY 2017 MVP grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) to the three communities. The MVP program provides support for municipalities to identify existing and future vulnerabilities and strengths, and to prioritize climate adaptation practices in order to create a safer, and more resilient future. Communities are awarded funding to host a series of workshops, complete vulnerability assessments, and develop action-oriented resiliency plans. CMRPC staff and other MVP-certified providers across the state have been trained to provide technical assistance in completing these workshops, assessments, and plans using the Community Resilience Building Framework .

CMRPC and the participating towns have worked through a community-led process to identify strengths, vulnerabilities, and strategies at the local and regional levels. Results of the workshops and planning efforts will be incorporated into existing local plans, grant applications, budgets, and policies in order to ensure that resilience is a long-term community priority. One area of focus will be to use the findings to inform Master Plans, Hazard Mitigation Plans, Open Space Plans, and other comprehensive planning processes. Towns that successfully complete the MVP program will be designated as a “Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program Community” and are eligible for follow-up grant funding and other opportunities for state assistance.

The EOEEA recently released Requests for Responses for its FY 2018 MVP grant programs. These two grant programs provide funding for municipalities or groups of municipalities to conduct community resilience-building planning workshops, or, for communities that are now completing the workshops under past grants, to complete resilience-building action projects. Please note that an in-kind match is required for the planning grant, while a 25% in-kind/cash match is required for the action grant.

Applications for the 2018 MVP planning grant are due on May 11 and for the action grant are due on May 18. Applications may be for single communities or may be regional, with a single community serving as the fiscal agent. Depending on the level of demand, CMRPC is prepared to offer technical assistance for applications to this program on a first-come first-served basis. We request that interested cities and towns contact us as soon as possible to discuss the program, local readiness to proceed, and the application process.

Staff contact: Andrew Loew, aloew@cmrpc.org or Trish Settles, tsettles@cmrpc.org

More information on the MVP programs, click here for the Action Grant and click here for the Planning Grant overviews available on COMMBUYS.
Transportation
Southbridge Street Corridor Profile
A Corridor Profile combines the information produced by the Transportation Management Systems along a particular highway corridor (often in multiple host communities) and analyzes performance-based data, suggests both operational and physical improvements, and may identify candidate projects for further study.

The CMRPC transportation staff recently completed the Southbridge Street Corridor Profile that includes the host communities of Worcester and Auburn. The Southbridge Street corridor was studied between Madison Street in Worcester to Auburn Street in Auburn. The full document can be found by clicking hereVarious Management Systems' data were collected and analyzed for this study. The data included traffic counts, congestion, freight, safety, pavement, and bridges. Additionally, numerous environmental data was also analyzed such as impaired waterways, vernal pools and flood zones. The WRTA fixed-route bus system and the nearby walking and biking trails were also studied. 

After all the data was collected and analyzed, the corridor deficiencies were identified and a range of suggested improvement options were compiled for the consideration of the host communities and MassDOT-Highway Division. When local consensus is reached, proposed improvement projects accepted by the community eligible for federal-aid funding have the potential to be selected by the Central Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization (CMMPO) for programming in the annual Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).  
2019 – 2023 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
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 planning area for the next five federal fiscal years. Potential TIP projects are screened and selected by the CMMPO Advisory Committee before being accepted and endorsed by the CMMPO.

The project prioritization and selection process combines an analysis of project information and evaluation of project importance. Performance Management criteria used by the CMRPC staff will measure the results of TIP investments in the transportation network that, among the range of goals that reflect US DOT’s Ten (10) Transportation Planning Factors, reduce congestion, improve pavement condition, and increase safety. Further, projects that encourage the use of public transit, bicycling and walking are increasingly programmed in the Central Massachusetts TIP.  

The CMRPC transportation staff, working with MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning and the Highway Division District #2 & #3 offices, reviews engineering design, right-of-way acquisition and environmental status information for each candidate project. If necessary, community officials and/or engineering consultants are also contacted to obtain design status updates or to give a presentation about the status of a project. Throughout the development of the TIP, the CMMPO oversees an extensive outreach effort, following an established Public Outreach Program (POP), which provides numerous opportunities for stakeholder and public involvement. Typically beginning in January, the TIP development process ends in May/June when the CMMPO acts to endorse the finalized project listing and associated documentation.

Once endorsed, the CMMPO TIP is forwarded to MassDOT's Office of Transportation Planning where it is combined with the TIP listings produced by all of the state’s planning regions. The resulting document, the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), is forwarded to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their approvals. Once these approvals are obtained, federal-aid transportation funds can be made available to construct the projects programmed in the TIP expected to begin in October 2018.
2017 Congestion Management Process (CMP) Progress Report
The region’s Congestion Management Process (CMP) was first established in 1995 as required by ISTEA. The provisions of MAP-21, reaffirmed by the Fixing America’s Infrastructure (FAST) Act, called for the continuation of the CMP program while also requiring a transition to Performance Based Planning & Programming (PBP&P). The intent of the CMP is to not only address existing congestion, but to prevent congestion from occurring elsewhere.  


Click  here to view the 2017 CMP report.
The Intersection of the CMMPO, Host Communities and Performance-Based Planning and Programming
As the CMMPO prepares to screen candidate projects that are seeking TIP funding, staff created a Performance Management Overview document for host communities to reference as they apply for funding through the 2019-2023 TIP. 

Reaffirmed by the FAST Act, the CMMPO is continuing the evolution of the development of performance-driven, multi-modal TIP projects. Performance-Based Planning and Programming (PBPP) is intended to improve public transparency, fiscal accountability, and investment decisions affecting the condition and performance of the transportation system.

The requirements in the earlier MAP-21 and the FAST Act established the backbone to PBPP; however the CMMPO can exceed these requirements to customize a PBPP process that meets the specific needs and interests of the region. The CMMPO developed its Performance Management program through a collaborative process with other stakeholders. It includes 18 goals and objectives across the 10 federal transportation planning emphasis areas. Each goal and objective has corresponding performance metrics that are monitored, and progress towards the established goals is reported annually in the form of a Regional Report Card.

Beyond the Report Card, the CMMPO has also developed a Performance Measure Criteria Matrix and TIP Project Screening Scoresheet as tools to inform the transportation investment decision making process within the PBPP framework.   

The Performance Management Overview describes the CMMPO’s current Performance Goals and Objectives, Federal Requirements for PBPP and indicates where those two initiatives overlap.  Soon, the Overview will be published on CMRPC’s website, but in the meantime, stakeholders and host communities that would like to obtain the Performance Management Overview at this time can be sent a copy by emailing Melissa Santley, msantley@cmrpc.org.
Regional Pavement Plan
Over the summer of 2017, the CMRPC transportation staff surveyed 362 miles of roadway, 1,503 ADA ramp locations and 60 miles of sidewalks in the region as part of the annual transportation data collection effort. The data collected focused in the West and North sub regions and is included in the 2017 Regional Pavement Plan available by clicking here . Individual town maps for pavement condition, ADA ramp condition, sidewalk condition and well as the regional map are also available by clicking through the links below. This year, the paving assessments will focus in the Central and Northeast sub-regions. 

If you have any questions about the newsletter , please contact alettic@cmrpc.org or 508.756.7717.