First Round Underway for 2020 DLTA Applications
The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) is currently seeking municipalities that need technical assistance to move ahead on local and state initiatives. The deadline for the first round of applications is January 15.  A second round will be considered in March.

Direct Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) funds are distributed each year through the state legislature with the support of the Governor of Massachusetts to regional planning agencies to provide technical assistance to the cities and towns in their jurisdiction.

Here is a list of the funded DLTA projects that the CMRPC assisted with in 2019:

Photo: Douglas, Mass.
CMRPC Staff Join National Conference on Brownfields
Pleased to be out of the snow and cold, CMPRC Regional Project Coordinator Connor Robichaud and Principal Planner Sarah Adams wanted “one photo with palm trees in the background” before delving into the intense 18th National Brownfields Training Conference in Los Angeles. The two were kept busy choosing from among more than 100 sessions on educational topics including environmental justice, resiliency, renewable energy, economic development and affordable housing. They will share this knowledge with staff and communities as the Commission moves to formulate individual brownfield and community resiliency plans.

In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded CMRPC $300,000 in two brownfields grants for community-wide environmental assessments in our region. The grants supported the enactment of CMRPC's Regional Brownfields Plan, which identified more than fifty key brownfields in fifteen under-resourced village centers and neighborhoods in south-central Worcester County. The work continues as the Commission and its partner, Fuss & O’Neill, provide site assessment services, conduct community outreach and develop site-specific mitigation strategies.

If there is a brownfield in your community that could benefit from an environmental assessment, CMRPC is currently accepting site nominations. To be included in the next round of sites being reviewed for approval, a nomination form must be submitted by January 17, 2020.  Questions regarding CMRPC's Brownfield Site Assessment Program should be directed to Andrew Loew, Project Manager, at (508) 459-3339 or .  

A brownfield is any property whose expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence of hazardous substances or contaminants.
Southern Worcester County’s Five-Year Economic Development Plan on Track
Join a Committee; Get Involved
At the December Board of Directors meeting of the Southern Worcester County Economic Development Organization (SWC EDO) members unanimously approved the organization’s 2019 Annual Report , which details the first year’s work on the region’s 2018-2023 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). They also agreed to the establishment of four new committees to complete the work described in the plan.

The 19-page report highlights economic opportunities, constraints, regional assets, goals and strategies, a regional resiliency plan and standards in the CMRPC’s 40-town region along with strategies for moving forward. As a result of December’s vote, the Report will be tendered to the US Economic Development Administration – a further step in the process of gaining designation as an Economic Development District by the region. This designation will help the region secure additional resources to complete the plan.

This first CEDS Annual Report is the culmination of nearly two-years of data gathering and community meetings. Each year, for the next four years, the SWC EDO will submit a similar report updating work on each of the goals and strategies contained in the 2018 CEDS.

The report’s section on Goals, Objectives and Actions divides the work into five goal areas, addressing: 1) The establishment of an Economic Development Program; 2) Site Availability, Development and Support Infrastructure; 3) Workforce Creation; 4) Regulatory Flexibility and Development Tools; 5) Business Development.

While the first goal will be taken up by the SWC EDO Executive Committee, the four remaining goals are new and require volunteers. They are: Site Development Support, Workforce Development, Development Tools, and Business Development.

If you would like to serve on any of these committees, contact Kerrie Salwa, .  
Community Spotlight: Looking for Your Happy Place? Try Northborough
Northborough has been named one of the ten happiest places in Massachusetts by Zippia, a national career consulting firm. Further, Massachusetts has been named the seventh happiest state in the country, by Wallet Hub, a credit scoring company.
What does this mean? Well, according to Wallet Hub, happy people live longer and pay their bills. Zippia’s interest is somewhat different.  As a job counselor, with a practice in advising college graduates and other job seekers, Zippia provides advice on, among other things, good places to live.

Zippia’s measure of happiness includes education levels, unemployment rates, cost of living information, commute to work times, home ownership, poverty rates and family friendly atmosphere. “There’s nothing we’d rather do than measure happiness in the Bay State,” says Zippia.

Kerri Martinek, CMRPC Executive Committee Sub-Regional Delegate from Northborough, a town of 14,155 residents (2010 U.S. Census) in East Central Massachusetts, sees it this way:

“No matter how big Northborough grows in size, it’s still got that small- town feel, and that has a great deal to do with our strong sense of community. The level of community-driven engagement comes from residents and local businesses alike - whether it’s Town Common, Applefest, Friends of the Senior Center, Helping Hands, Northborough Moms, Northborough Education Foundation, Community Affairs, and more. Many hands come together, to work together, to make Northborough such a happy place to live.”

Photo: Wachusett Aqueduct at  Northborough  spanning the  Assabet River .

Peloquin Speaks at WSU Academic Event
Central Mass. Regional Planning Commission’s Peter Peloquin was a featured speaker at Worcester State University’s assembly “Educating Future Leaders in the Public Sector,” hosted by WSU President Barry Maloney. The meeting’s purpose was to announce two new Masters Programs: Masters of Public Administration and Policy, and Masters of Public Management.

An associate planner with the Commission, Peloquin (third from right) served on a panel with Dr. Thomas Conroy, Ph.D., chair of the Urban Studies Dept., Dr. Shiko Gathuo, Ph.D., director of Graduate Programs in Urban Studies, Urban Studies Dept., Dr. Adam Saltsman, Ph.D. , assistant professor, Urban Studies Dept., and Rachel Pressley, graduate masters of Non-Profit Management and staff assistant to the town manager of Auburn, MA. The panel was a highlight of the University’s announcement ceremony.

“One of the biggest skills I took away from WSU was the ability to see how everything in a community is connected, and how to work with multiple disciplines,” Peloquin told the audience. “These are skills I use and develop every day.”

“Working with hazard mitigation and municipal vulnerability preparedness planning, my team and I take a town-wide approach to identify natural hazards and how each affects the town,” he said. “Then, we recommend strategies to reduce risks.”

Peloquin holds a bachelors’ degree from Worcester State University’s Urban Studies Department, where he was founder and president of the Urban Studies Club, and earned the Vincent “Jake” Powers Award for academic achievement.

Contact Pete Peloquin , . to develop a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Plan for your town.
CMRPC Staffer Yearns to Fly
Oh, to slip the surly bonds of earth and see the face of… Zack Blais, CMRPC’s newest drone pilot.

Zack, an assistant planner in the Transportation Dept., became an FAA-certified drone pilot by passing the Knowledge Exam required to fly for commercial purposes under the Part 107 rules in December. He reports that the study program was very thorough including flight regulations, airspace requirements, weather safety, drone loading and performance, and flight operations. He joins Claire Bayler as the newest member of the CMRPC flight team. With his certification, the CMRPC Drone Program will be up and running by the start of 2020.

The agency purchased its Mavic Pro 2 drone earlier this year. Zack plans to use it for transportation projects such as data collection, site photos and surveys, regional trails and asset management, as well as for other projects underway throughout the Commission, like ArcGIS Story Maps.

If you would like more information on CMRPC’s Drone Program contact: Zack or Claire
Spotlight on Yahaira Graxirena, Principal Planner and Volunteer
Yahaira Graxirena is an ardent volunteer. Employed as a principal planner in CMRPC’s Transportation Department, her heart is into helping underserved people find their voices in the public arena, and her talents often take her to projects that involve traffic safety. That’s where her job is.

The City of Worcester has the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in the region, and most of those are in neighborhoods populated by the underserved. Increasingly, any opportunity to reduce that statistic is well received. That’s why, when Yahaira heard the concerns from Green Hill Neighborhood residents during the Mobility 2040 outreach project she decided to help right away. Working strictly as a volunteer, Yahaira was instrumental in identifying the funds, writing the grant, defining the scope of work and bringing together the partners. 

During this year-long effort, she participated in a neighborhood walk audit, a community design workshop and attended meetings on the Lincoln Corridor Project. The most recent pedestrian fatality along this corridor happened on September 4, 2019.

For a Halloween event at St. Bernard’s Church, Yahaira used that opportunity to share the pedestrian safety message by giving away LED reflectors and encouraging the children to draw artistic crosswalks while envisioning positive change for the neighborhood. Currently, an engineering class at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute is designing the safety improvements for this corridor based on residents' input and the Complete Streets policy. The design will be presented early next year.  The community plans to do a demonstration project in the spring based on these designs.

This project is part and parcel of the work Yahaira does every day at CMRPC for towns in South Central Massachusetts. The Green Hill project offered her the opportunity to work directly with underserved populations, and spread the message of pedestrian safety in the community. 

CMRPC encourages volunteerism in its region by providing hours off to match hours provided to the community. Besides supporting our communities, volunteer projects are always a learning opportunity.

Do you have a traffic safety issue in your town? Why not email Sujatha Krishnan, Deputy Director, CMRPC or Yahaira Graxirena

Photo: Yahaira at the St. Bernard’s Halloween Event with her children, Batman Alexandre, 13, and Lego Batman Marck, 7.

CMRPC is the Regional Planning Agency for the City of Worcester and 39 Surrounding Municipalities in Southern Worcester County. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for those who live and work in the region.
Save the Date
  • Quarterly Commission Meeting regarding the 2020 Census and Data 1/9/2020, 6:30p registration, 7:00p meeting begins Auburn Town Hall, Selectmen's Meeting room. RSVP for the January Quarterly Meeting

  • Quarterly Commission Meeting 3/12/2020
If you have any questions about the newsletter, please contact or 508.756.7717.