Annual Dinner at Blackstone National Golf Club


CMRPC Annual Golf and Dinner Outing

CMRPC staff, Commission members and guests spent a beautiful day at the Blackstone National Golf Club in Sutton. 18 holes of golf were followed by a buffet dinner, staff video, awards ceremony and Keynote Speaker, Francois-Laurent Nivaud. Nivaud is the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) and he spoke about the great potential for Central Mass in that sector. 

Awards were given to Theresa Cofske, Hardwick Town Administrator for her trailblazing efforts in comprehensive energy reduction strategy in the Town of Hardwick; John L. Hebert, in recognition of outstanding leadership in facilitating implementation of the various transportation infrastructure projects in the Blackstone Valley through the Central Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization Process; Margaret Nartowicz, Rutland Town Administrator, in recognition of her extraordinary commitment to municipal collaboration and shared services as a means to more effective town management; the Town of Dudley in recognition of the outstanding planning partnership between the Town of Dudley and CMRPC; and Peter Krawczyk, CMRPC Delegate from Warren, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission and the Physical Development Committee. 


New Hires!


Chelsey Pousland was welcomed into the CMRPC family on May 30th and  serves as a Planning Assistant on the Transportation staff. She is no stranger to CMRPC, as her previous role was as a part-time Transportation technician in the summer and fall of 2016. She recently graduated from Westfield State University with a B.S. in Regional Planning with a concentration in Urban and Social Justice, along with a minor in GIS. Chelsey will be assisting the Transit Planning staff on a variety of data collection, service planning, and a myriad of other transit-related tasks to support the WRTA. Residing in Millbury, she offers a bit of local flavor to the Transportation staff with her expertise of the area.


Devin Clarke joins the CMRPC community on June 19th, serving
as a Planning Assistant on the Transportation staff. Devin is a familiar face around the CMRPC office, as he interned with Transportation staff in the summer and fall of 2016. He recently graduated from Clark University with a B.A. in Geography with a concentration in Urban Development and Social Change. Devin will hone his skills assisting the Highway Planning staff with traffic counting, pavement management, congestion management, and other data collection duties. Hailing from Connecticut, Devin has made Worcester his new home as a student and is excited to be a part of the CMRPC family.



Eli Goldman joined the CMRPC staff as a Planning Assistant in the Community  Development and Planning department on June 5, 2017. Before becoming a full-time staff member, Eli worked as an intern with CMRPC while receiving his M.A in Community Development and Planning from Clark University. As an intern and staff member, he has worked on a number of projects related to energy and environmental planning in the Central Massachusetts region. Originally from Northampton, MA, Eli has lived in Worcester for the last five years and enjoys working to increase quality of life for those residing in Central Massachusetts.  

TRANSPORTATION

City of Worcester - CMRPC Bicycle Parking Program Update

Just a friendly reminder that the Bicycle
Parking Program is still available through the end of September. Approximately 50% of
CMRPC municipalities have participated in the program to date. To review, the City of Worcester-CMRPC Bicycle Parking Program provides full reimbursement of the cost of purchasing bicycle racks, minus the shipping and installation costs. Installation and shipping costs are borne by the agencies/municipalities as part of the local match funding mechanism. Municipalities may order racks through the approved bicycle parking vendors. Time is of the essence as all installation should be completed by mid-August in order to allow for reimbursement processing. Program related information can be found at http://www.worcesterma.gov/dpw/engineering/bike-rack-project

Please contact Dan Daniska, Transportation Planner, at: ddaniska@cmrpc.org or (508) 459-3331 for more information. 


Complete Streets
 
CMRPC staff are working to complete three Tier II  Prioritization Plans at this time. West Boylston, Barre, and Rutland have contracted with the Commission to provide field data collection, analysis, public input solicitation, and priority listing development for the MassDOT sponsored program. Staff is in the final stages of Prioritization Plan development, and anticipates submitting all three plans for MassDOT approval by the end of June. Additionally, the Town of Spencer, with the help of CMRPC staff, has applied for a Tier III Construction project. The Town is seeking to fill in a gap in the sidewalk network downtown along MA-9. An improved crossing and sidewalk network will aid residents in getting to school, work, and commercial areas. 

If you would like help developing a Complete Streets Policy, a Tier II Prioritization Plan, or have any general questions, please contact  Dan Daniska, Transportation Planner, at: ddaniska@cmrpc.org  or (508) 459-3331 for more information. 


Culvert Replacement
Division of Ecological Restoration

The Culvert Replacement Municipal Assistance
Grant Program is a state-wide grant opportunity to help municipalities replace degraded and undersized culverts. Pending the approval of Division of Ecological Restoration's (DER) capital budget, the DER will award up to $750,000 to municipalities for the next fiscal year (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018) for culvert replacement projects anticipated to meet the MA Stream Crossing Standards. Additional funding up to $300,000 is also available in the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord (SuAsCo) River Watershed for culvert projects [design, permitting, and/or construction replacement] that benefit coldwater fisheries.

The Culvert Replacement Municipal Assistance Grant Program will accept proposals for replacement of municipally owned culverts that cross freshwater streams in areas with high ecological value. All Massachusetts municipalities are eligible to apply. Ideally, the Public Works/Highway Director or the municipal staff responsible for managing and maintaining culvert infrastructure will be the point of contact during the project. This grant opportunity will support one or more of the following project phases: field data collection and technical analyses, design, permitting, and construction. Upon award, proposed work must be completed by June 30, 2018. Typical awards will range from $25,000 to $200,000. Matching funds are not required; however, projects are expected to meet the MA Stream Crossing Standards.
   
 
Please do not hesitate to contact  Tim Chorey (617-626-1541) Stream Continuity Specialist  with any questions.


Annual Environmental Consultation Session Held
 
On April 12, 2017, the CMMPO hosted its Annual Environmental Consultation Meeting.  According to US DOT guidance, environmental consultation is a discussion of potential environmental mitigation activities and potential areas to carry out these activities that may have the greatest potential to restore and maintain the environmental functions affected by the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), Mobility2040.  The discussion should be developed via consultation with Federal, State, and Tribal land management, wildlife and regulatory agencies. 

In the past, CMRPC has held 
Environmental  Consultation Meetings that focused on topics such as stream crossing designs that address fish, wildlife and severe storm resilience.  This year's Environmental Consultation theme was transportation planning for climate change.  Among the attendees were CMRPC staff, representatives from MassDOT headquarters and District 3, as well as a selectmen and Town Administrator from West Brookfield, a staff member from Northeast CT Council of Governments and members of the public.  Guest speakers were Arthur Frost, Stephanie DiNezio from MassDOT as well as Annie Lemelin from the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF). 
CMRPC staff Melissa Santley started the meeting with a presentation on climate change considerations during the transportation planning process.   She highlighted strategies that address vulnerability, adaptation, and resiliency and how they are woven into the performance-based planning process to score candidate TIP projects.  Additionally, she showcased the environmental considerations to bordering wetlands and endangered species for a LRTP featured major infrastructure project, Route 9 in West Brookfield. 

Arthur Frost and Stephanie Dinezio from MassDOT walked the attendees through the environmental mitigation process utilized for the Route 20 reconstruction project in Charlton and Oxford.   Part of their approach to avoid and minimize impacts to the surrounding environment during and post construction is to conduct a climate change assessment of the assets.  Results of this assessment include bridges that will survive 100 and 500 year storms, adequately sized culvert replacements and the installation of modern closed drainage systems. 
Annie Lemelin from CLF wrapped up the meeting with a presentation on the history of the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) and the influence CLF had on these state regulations.   The meeting ended with a thoughtful discussion and a future action item for staff to complete an Environmental Mitigation Progress Report with a number of transportation planning related resources including considerations for climate change.

For more information, please contact Melissa Santley at 508-459-3341 or msantley@cmrpc.org  


Regional Traffic Count Program
 
CMRPC will begin its 2017 Regional Traffic 
Count Program in June.  The count data is used by staff in its ongoing transportation planning program, including the calibration of the regional travel demand forecast model, the Management Systems and Freight Planning.  Before the season begins, all counting equipment is tested to verify that it adheres to MassDOT guidelines.  The CMRPC traffic counting program considers the Central Mass region in three distinct geographic areas:  the northern subregion (21 communities), the southern subregion (18 communities) and the city of Worcester.  The count program rotates to each of these defined areas every three years.  In 2017, CMRPC is focusing its count program in the southern subregion and approximately 215 locations are planned.  The entire historic database of all completed traffic counts through 2016 can be found on the CMRPC website at http://www.cmrpc.org/regional-traffic-counting .

Additionally the CMRPC Data collection team will be surveying the condition of all Federal Aid eligible roads in the West and North Subregion for pavement, sidewalk and ADA ramp condition. The entire historic database of all completed traffic counts through 2016 can be found on the CMRPC website at http://www.cmrpc.org/pavement_management
 
For more information, contact Rob Raymond at (508)-459-3323 or  rraymond@cmrpc.org    


2018 - 2022 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
Annual Development Process
 
The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a federally mandated requirement for all Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs).  The TIP is a prioritized listing of all multi-modal transportation investments in an MPO's planning area for the next 5 federal fiscal years.  Potential TIP projects are screened and selected by the Central Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization (CMMPO) Advisory Committee before being released and endorsed by the CMMPO.  Performance-based planning and programming procedures, customized to the region, are used to select these projects with the most potential positive impacts.

The development of the 2018 - 2022 TIP 
started in January & February with host community project presentations to the CMMPO members.  On February 16th, "TIP Readiness Day" was held at the MassDOT-District #3 office to discuss the status of all potential future year TIP projects.  At the March CMMPO meeting, a TIP Workshop was held to discuss various highway project options for programming in all five years.  Based on Performance Measures scoring, project readiness, and project cost, the projects were chosen and the Draft 2018 - 2022 TIP was released for a 21-day public comment period by the CMMPO at their April meeting.  On May 17th, the CMMPO endorsed the 2018 - 2022 TIP.  The four target-funded projects included in the first year (2018) of the TIP are Princeton (Route 140), Uxbridge (Route 122-North Main Street), Worcester (Blackstone Canal on Harding Street), and Worcester (Winthrop St/Providence St/Vernon St/Granite St).  Once approved by both Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)  & Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the 2018 - 2022 TIP will become active on October 1, 2017.   

For more information, contact Kevin Krasnecky (508-459-3314) or kkrasnecky@cmrpc.org    

 
FHWA & FTA Conduct
Transportation Planning Certification Review
 
On May 17th, both the Federal Highway 
Administration (FHWA)  and sister agency Federal Transit Administration (FTA) held their periodic "Transportation Planning Certification Review" of the Central Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization (CMMPO).  Scheduled every four years, the transportation staff of the CMRPC, which also serves as staff to the CMMPO, was last certified in May of 2013.  Receiving the federal certification allows the planning work of the staff to continue moving forward, helping to ensure the continued flow of national multi-modal transportation improvement dollars to the planning region.
 
Prior to the day of the certification, held at the CMRPC offices, the transportation staff needed to forward advance materials, such as major federally-required reports and handouts, to the FHWA/FTA review team.  In turn, staff needed to respond to a series of advance questions (+40) where the federal team would focus their efforts.  Another area of prior preparation for the transportation staff included the compilation of six large poster boards covering the coverage and depth of our work.  Numerous sample studies and summary handouts were also made available.
 
On the day of the review, the review team and the transportation staff held detailed discussions that encompassed the following topics:  structure and governance of the CMMPO, the Public Outreach Program (POP), equity in transportation, performance-based planning & programming, the Long Range Transportation Plan Mobility2040, the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) as well as transit planning.  Prior to a break for lunch, staff provided the federal review team with a guided tour of Worcester's Union Station and general vicinity observing the passenger rail amenities, freight railroad CSX's nearby intermodal operations, a djacent transit-oriented development, the intercity bus terminal and taxis stand area, as well as the Worcester Regional Transit Authority's (WRTA's) passenger Hub facility which was bustling with activity.  The day also included review team interviews with various stakeholders, modal providers and other associates of the CMMPO.  Ultimately, the federal review team also attended the regular monthly meeting of the CMMPO, seeking further input from the membership.
 
As part of a debriefing session held a week later  with members of the FHWA/FTA team, the Executive Director and the transportation staff learned that the federal team was overall pleased with the review of the CMMPO's transportation planning process.  As such, FHWA & FTA jointly certified the CMMPO transportation planning process 
for the next four years in correspondence dated May 24th!  Areas of commendation may include
 staff efforts with performance-based planning & programming as well as the content and 
outreach associated with the compilation of Mobility2040.  Areas of potential improvement, from staff's own retrospect, may include the compilation of a CMMPO policy summary  document, covering bylaws, public outreach and interaction procedures with other partner agencies.  Further, the region's ongoing Congestion Management Process (CMP) may see refinements related to the inclusion of additional public transit-related aspects.

For more information, contact Rich Rydant at (508) 459-3312 or rrydant@cmrpc.org 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING

Town of Rutland Planning Board Assistance

Based on the success of the Community Compact
Cabinet shared planner project, CMRPC continues to provide Planning Board Assistance to the Town of Rutland via a contract for services.  Principal Planner Jeff Bagg has been providing part-time planner services with office hours and attendance at planning board meetings twice per month.  The current program is providing application reviews, applicant consultation, professional support during public hearings, and establishing a new permit filing system, application submission process, and updating of forms. 

The Rutland Planning Board has secured funding and intends to extend the contract for an additional six months from July 2017 to December 2017 completing one year of Planning Board Assistance.  We thank the Town of Rutland for continuing to work with CMRPC.
 
For more information, contact Jeff Bagg at (508)-459-3342 or  jbagg@cmrpc.org


Shared Planner Best Practices

In 2016, CMRPC completed a Community Compact Cabinet (CCC) shared planner project.  Concluding the project is a final best practices report which provides a brief overview of the shared planner services offered to the Town of Rutland and the Town of Barre from February 2016 to June 2016.  The report outlines general budgetary considerations for future application of a shared planner position.

The report also begins to identify examples of the value added to municipalities who may consider establishing a shared planner, part-time planner, or full-time planner position.  The ability to gain support for a new position at Town Meeting requires education and awareness of the many things a Town Planner can do for a community.  Some of those benefits include assisting residents through the permitting process, providing "long range" planning services, enhancing
municipal coordination, consistency, and efficiency, or p roviding  professional support to Boards.

For more information, contact Jeff Bagg at (508)-459-3342 or jbagg@cmrpc.org

Green Communities

After working with both Barre and Hardwick to apply for competitive grants, CMRPC is excited to announce the following Green Communities Competitive Grant Awards for 2017:
 
Barre: $116,199
Barre's 2017 Competitive Grant will be used to fund energy conservation measures in municipal facilities including Town Offices, Town Hall, Public Library, Station #1, Station #2, Senior Center, Well #3, and Dept of Public Works. The energy conservation measures funded by this grant are: energy savings lighting improvements and grant management assistance
 
Hardwick: $116,592
Hardwick's 2017 Competitive Grant will be used to fund energy conservation measures in municipal facilities including town vehicle fleet, Municipal Building, Paige Memorial Library, Recycling Center, Building Dept, new Police Station, and Hardwick Elementary School. The energy conservation measures funded by this grant are: pipe insulation, temperature controls, weatherization, electric vehicle purchase, electric vehicle charging stations, and grant management assistance


For more information, contact Dominique DuTremble at (508)-459-3336 or ddutremble@cmrpc.org


Recreational Marijuana Technical Assistance

In February, based on input from communities during our December 2016 event (and beyond), CMRPC compiled a series of questions and concerns regarding the law as it relates to implementation by municipalities and submitted the letter to Senator Michael Moore and the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy.  Also, CMRPC helped form an informal Town Marijuana Working Group consisting of the Town Planners from Grafton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, and Sutton and hosted a "planner's forum" in Northbridge to review and discuss the process for Town's considering and/or pursuing temporary moratoriums. CMRPC participated in a presentation and panel discussion hosted by the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association (MMLA) alongside representatives from the State Treasurers Office, Municipal Law Unit, and others. The MMLA described the event at Clark University as one of their most popular ever.    Finally, CMRPC and an attorney from MAPC conducted a presentation on the new law at the Citizen Planner Training Collaborative (CPTC) at Holy Cross.  CPTC described the session as the most attended session of the year! 

In April, a Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy held a series of public hearings on the new law in March.  In May, numerous communities have put temporary moratoriums on the warrants at their Town Meetings.  In addition, several communities have passed voter referendum questions prohibiting recreational marijuana uses out-right.

Over the summer, CMRPC intends to map and track community activities related to the new law since there is no centralized repository for this type of information and create preliminary model regulations for use by communities seeking to regulate the new uses.  

Learn more by going to our webpage www.cmrpc.org/recreationalmarijuana or contact Principal Planner Jeff Bagg for more information at (508) 459-3342 or jbagg@cmrpc.org.


West Brookfield Master Plan 


In March, CMRPC and the Master Plan Committee hosted its first public event launching the Town's Master Plan.  Co-managed by Chris Ryan and Jeff Bagg, the project kick-off event was well attended by over 60 residents.  In April Town-wide survey was launched and at the close of the survey on May 31st, a total of 322 responses were collected, which is an approximately 8.5% response rate! 

On June 22, the second community event is scheduled for the review of survey results and to begin to guide the creation of community goals and strategies.  A final event will occur in August with the final plan due for completion in October. 

We are very proud of our work in West Brookfield.  Feel free to take a look at all the activity posted on the project website or follow the project on Facebook:



Village Center Zoning

In March the Physical Development Committee of CMRPC awarded District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) funding to assist the Towns of Holden, West Boylston, and Auburn on Village Center Zoning projects.  They will kick off with meetings of those Planning Board's in July.  West Boylston is interested in studying options for the area around the town common, Route 140 and Central Street.  Holden will review the area known as Jefferson Mill, and Auburn will continue their study of the Drury Square area. 

As part of this project, the creation of model Village Center Zoning and Design Guidelines will be completed.  They will provide the framework for other Town's in the CMPRC region to consider options to enhance, revitalize, and transform existing business areas into more attractive, pedestrian oriented, and vibrant "village centers". 


For more information c ontact Principal Planner Jeff Bagg at (508) 459-3342 or jbagg@cmrpc.org 


Low Impact Development (LID) Bylaw Analysis 

In May the Physical Development Committee of
 CMRPC awarded District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) funding to assist the Towns of Oxford, Barre, and Rutland

This project is a direct result of CMRPC's partnership with the   Mass Environmental Trust (MET) and Mass Audubon which was intended to the raise awareness of municipalities in the CMRPC of LID techniques. The LID Bylaw analysis is a continuation of a previous project and partnership between MET, Mass Audubon, and CMRPC. Eli Goldman, Planning Assistant, will review and compare each town's existing land use regulation to best practices and provide a list of options to consider to better align LID standards with existing regulations.  This type of analysis will achieve one of the requirements for meeting the MS4 regulations and in Barre will help support the Planning Board's goal of establishing new Natural Resource Protection Zoning. 


For more information c ontact  Planning Assistant Eli Goldman  at egoldman@cmrpc.org.

REGIONAL SERVICES

CMRPC Expands Disaster Planning through Chemical Safety Outreach

Earlier this year, CMRPC was
awarded a grant from the MA Office of Technical Assistance and Technology (OTA) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to sponsor workshops on chemical safety and climate protection. The trainings are designed to educate city officials, community leaders, Local/Regional Emergency Planning Committees (L/REPCs), and businesses about the toxic chemicals stored, used, and transported through their communities. The trainings will also help municipalities incorporate toxics use reduction into community and regional emergency preparedness, and supply toxics users with the tools they need to prevent industrial accidents.
Please take a few moments to fill out our 5-minute survey. Your responses will be kept confidential and will help inform the development of our first workshop.

 
SAVE THE DATE:
Monday, September 18th, 9AM-12PM
Union Hall Conference Room, 2 Washington Square (CMRPC Offices), Worcester, MA 01604
 
Please RSVP to Hoamy Tran at   htran@cmrpc.org  or 508-459-3327
For more information visit: www.cmrpc.org/chemicalsafety   


Business Community of Barre

The Business Community of Barre (BCB) is an economic development initiative between the Town of Barre, Barre Business Owners, and CMRPC. The BCB recently got additional DLTA funding to create a model for developing Business Communities and fulfilling the projects they already initiated. The BCB has been acquiring advertisements from Barre Business Owners for their New Resident/Visitor Brochure, and both brochures (including one to invite other business owners into the Group) are almost ready to print.

The Internet Service Leverage Committee
 met recently to discuss the importance of increasing cell-phone coverage and internet access across Town. Head of Information Technology in Barre, Adam Suzor, is chock full of ideas to get Barre the fastest, cheapest, and most widespread coverage of these 21st Century services as soon as possible. It is hoped that as IT improves substantially in Barre, other Business Owners in Barre will see the impact of the BCB and join the group.
 
The MassDevelopment/Patronicity Placemaking Grant that the BCB will be applying to will solicit support from the community for removable and portable Movie Night equipment that can showcase their newly renovated Barre Common, as well as the many different neighborhoods that Barre has to offer: South Barre; Barre Mills: Barre Plains; etc. Movie night would be seasonal, and might incorporate community service through Quabbin Regional High School or Stetson School students.
 
There are a handful of excited Barre Business Owners who have been carrying out the basic function of the BCB. Hopefully with a little more interest in the group, the Business Community of Barre can apply to become established as its own organization.

For more information, contact Derrick Mathieu at (508) 459-3324 or at dmathieu@cmrpc.org 


Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning
 
CMRPC recently completed hazard mitigation plans for thirteen of our communities - Blackstone, Douglas, Holden, Hopedale, Mendon, Millville, Oxford, Paxton, Princeton, Sutton, West Brookfield and Westborough.  Each of the thirteen towns have been adopted locally and approved by FEMA .
 
As a complement to that project, in August, FEMA and MEMA awarded CMRPC a $151,875 grant to develop five-year plan updates 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. Work is now well underway in six communities, including Worcester. The initial stages of planning have begun in five more towns. Updated community plans will be produced in batches throughout the grant period, which ends in 2019.

For more information, contact Adam Menard at (508) 459-3344 or at amenard@cmrpc.org 


Central Mass Grown

Central Mass Grown celebrated the launch of their third annual Farm Products Guide at their third Annual Meeting on Monday, April 24th. This year, the Farm Products Guide was developed entirely through CMRPC's new Adobe Creative Programs. Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop were used to create advertisements for Members who didn't have any, and edit advertisements that wouldn't fit properly. Using the Adobe programs, CMRPC skillfully crafted the magazine with more Members than ever:
  • 118 Farms;
  • 5 Value Added Businesses;
  • 15 Restaurants;
  • 11 Retailers & Distributors;
  • 18 Community Organizations; and
  • 31 Individuals

A total of 198 Members! CMRPC's purchase of, and subscription to, Adobe Creative Programs, made the final product more polished than ever. Specifically, it helped our chosen printer ( Daily Hampshire Gazette, NH) to print a superior product with finely tuned colors, straighter and crisper printing lines, and the ability to assist CMRPC with fine-tuning the final product.

For more information, contact Derrick Mathieu at (508) 459-3324 or
derrick@centralmassgrown.org