Common Ground
March 2021
A Newsletter for Community Planning in the Berkshire Region
Invite others to read Common Ground! Share this link with your colleagues.
Please join us in welcoming Courteny Morehouse as BRPC’S new Senior Planner with the Environmental and Energy Program. Courteny will be involved in several environmental program projects, primarily those related to municipal vulnerability preparedness, natural hazard mitigation, 604b and S.319 water quality programs, and NPDES stormwater requirements. We are thrilled to have her on board and believe she will be an asset to our community and team.
Congratulations to Mark Maloy, Manager of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Data and IT, on his 20-year anniversary with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission! In addition to providing Berkshire county with relevant mapping, data, and analysis resources, Mark keeps the 27+ BRPC staff’s technology ticking (despite challenging remote conditions). He joined the Commission as the GIS Coordinator. His role expanded to utilize needed technology and data analysis skills and in 2012 he was promoted to Manager.
Grant Opportunities

Applications accepted on a rolling basis until May 7Conservation Assistance for Small Communities

Applications accepted on a rolling basis while funds are available - Community Development Block Grant Microenterprise Assistance
Community One Stop for Growth
On January 21, 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the launch of the Community One Stop for Growth, a single application portal and collaborative review process for grant programs. This will allow applicants—including municipalities, public entities, community non-profits, and private companies—to use a single portal to access ten different grant programs.

For more information, please visit
Community & Economic Development
BRPC Launches the FY20 Dalton-Becket-Stockbridge-Sheffield CDBG Grant

BRPC’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Team has begun implementation of the long-delayed FY20 Dalton CDBG grant. The Town of Dalton, with BRPC’s assistance, submitted the regional grant in March of 2020, with regional partners Becket, Stockbridge and Sheffield, and was awarded $1,298,304 to provide housing rehabilitation services in the four towns, as well as municipal ADA planning in Dalton.

This is a HUD funded grant program, with competitive grants awarded through the MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and will be used primarily to assist low to moderate income homeowners correct code violations, weatherization, and other deferred maintenance in their homes. BRPC will assist the Town of Dalton with grant administration and will manage the housing rehabilitation program. Typical projects undertaken through the CDBG Housing Rehabilitation Program include roofs and window replacements, electrical and plumbing upgrades, heating systems and septic systems.

The CDBG housing rehab team is currently reaching out to homeowners on the waiting lists from Dalton, Becket, Stockbridge and Sheffield to provide additional program information and instructions on how to apply. Other interested parties from the four towns may contact Christie Lewis, BRPC Grant and Procurement Specialist, at or 413-442-1521 x 23.
Microenterprise Grant Programs Available in North & South Berkshires

BRPC is helping to administer two CDBG-CV Grant Programs to provide assistance to income-qualifying small business owners in northern and southern Berkshire County. The purpose of each Program is to help low-to-moderate income microenterprise (5 employees or fewer) owners prepare for, prevent and/or respond to the impacts of COVID-19. Eligible applicants will receive up to $10,000 to cover business costs such as rent, staffing and utilities. These grants have been made available by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (MA DHCD) utilizing funds received from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Community Planning
Thursday, March 18th - Introduction to MACRIS Maps

The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System Maps (MACRIS Maps) allows users to search the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) online MACRIS database by location for information on file with the MHC on cultural resources throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For a local historical commission, this session will explain how best to utilize MACRIS maps for your community-wide historic preservation planning activities.

Presented virtually by The Western Mass Historical Commission Coalition

You can also dial in using your phone: United States: +1 (669) 224-3412 
Access Code: 577-216-533 
Community One Stop for Growth: Community Planning Grants
Beginning January 2021, ten programs are administered through the Community One Stop for Growth, one of which is offered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and focuses on Community Planning grants. Access to this new grant program is exclusively available through the One Stop and will allow municipalities to apply for funding for technical assistance on planning and zoning projects. All Massachusetts municipalities are eligible. The maximum award is $75,000.

Prospective applicants will be able to submit an Expression of Interest through April 2021, outlining priority projects to receive feedback and suggestions on the best path for submitting a Full Application for consideration. Full Applications will be due by the end of June 2021.

Community Planning grants may be used for a variety of activities related to land use. Activities may include the development of a Master Plan, Housing Production Plan, Zoning Review and Updates, Urban Renewal Plan, Land Use Plan, Downtown Plan, Parking Management Plan, Feasibility Study, or Other Strategic Plan. These are planning grants and projects must use the funds to produce a planning document.

Program information and guidelines for fiscal year 2022 can be found online:  
Data & Information Services
Census 2020 Update
The data collection for the 2020 Census ended last summer, and the initial apportionment results were to be released by December 31, 2020. Due to delays caused by the pandemic, we can expect the release of the apportionment results at the end of April 2021. The apportionment data will inform each state how many seats in the US House of Representatives they will have. We will begin to see local data released at the end of September 2021, which will aid the Massachusetts Legislature in redrawing the US House of Representative districts, the Massachusetts Senate districts, and the Massachusetts House of Representative districts. Stay tuned for more information on the results as they get released.
Emergency Preparedness
March 10th Webinar: “Incorporating Pandemic Preparedness in Institutional Emergency Plans”

The Conservation Center for Art & Historical Artifacts (CCAHA) is hosting a webinar titled: “Incorporating Pandemic Preparedness in Institutional Emergency Plans,” on March 10, 2021 at 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The speaker, Dyani Feige, is the Director of Preservation Services at CCAHA and works with libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural organizations to conduct needs and risk assessments, assist in disaster planning, and help develop policy and planning documents for collections. Registration is $30 and is limited to 30 participants.

Find the full description and registration information here: 
Environmental & Energy
Virtual Learning Opportunity: Understanding the Mass Save and Related Program Benefits for Low and Moderate Income Households

BRPC is partnering with Berkshire Community Action Council, Center for EcoTechnology, and Berkshire Gas/Avangrid to host a virtual learning opportunity on March 3rd, 2021 from 1–2:15 pm.

This event is well-suited for anyone working with low-to-moderate income or otherwise vulnerable populations that wants to connect their clients with free and low-cost clean energy technologies and energy efficiency through state-subsidized programs. These programs help households cut monthly energy bill costs, make homes healthier and more comfortable, and reduce their carbon footprints.
This virtual learning opportunity will cover:
1.   Residential clean energy technologies available
2.   The basics of home weatherization
3.   The financial, health, and environmental benefits of clean and efficient energy
4.   Fixed-income and market-rate state incentive programs
5.   Step-by-step process of accessing these programs locally

Representatives from Berkshire Community Action Council, Center for EcoTechnology, and Avangrid/Berkshire Gas will explain how their organizations can help households access clean and efficient energy technologies in Berkshire County. They will also hold a Q&A after the presentation.
Event participants will receive promotional and reference materials after the event as well as recording of the presentation. Please feel free to share this invitation with coworkers, clients, etc. All are welcome.
*While fixed-income programs will be the primary focus, market-rate clean and efficient energy incentive programs available to Massachusetts residents of all income brackets will be discussed. 

Register HERE to save your seat! For questions or more information, contact Emily Lange.
Regional Services
Efficiency & Regionalization Grant Program

The Efficiency and Regionalization (E&R) competitive grant program provides financial support for governmental entities interested in implementing regionalization and other efficiency initiatives that allow for long-term sustainability. These grants provide funds for one-time or transition costs for municipalities, regional planning agencies, councils of governments, regional school districts, interested in such projects. The application period for the FY21 E&R Grant program opens on March 15th, 2021 and closes on April 15th, 2021. More information can be found at Efficiency & Regionalization grant program | Contact BRPC Executive Director Tom Matuszko, for more information.
BRGPP Launches FY22 Procurement Season

The Berkshire Regional Group Purchasing Program (BRGPP) is happy to announce the launch of the 2022 Group Purchasing season. During 2021 the Program assisted 28 Berkshire County communities in purchasing a range of products and services through a competitive bidding process that includes all aspects of MGL Chapter 30B bidding, such as Chapter 90 pre-qualification for MassDOT projects and Highway products through the solicitation of bids for a variety heating and fuel products for municipal needs.

This season the BRGPP sponsored an information meeting and roundtable discussion on February 24, 2021 with town officials and DPW staff from multiple Berkshire communities. Rebecca Slick, BRGPP Program Coordinator, presented information on changes on the FY2022 Products and Services Survey, and led a group discussion on current municipal needs. Information shared during this roundtable discussion will shape the solicitations the BRGPP issues as the procurement season proceeds.

Further information will be made available on the BRPC website throughout the Spring procurement season. Please check back at for further developments.

BRGPP contacts:
Rebecca Slick, MCPPO, Program Coordinator: or 413-442-1521 x 54;
Christie Lewis, Grant and Procurement Specialist:, or 413-442-1521 x 23; Patricia Mullins, Community and Economic Development Program Manager, BRGPP Manager:, or 413-442-1521 x 17
Public Health
Grey to Green: Increasing Health Equity in Pittsfield, MA

Grey to Green is an environmental and climate focused initiative that prioritizes green planning in social and racial justice contexts. It is driven by an inclusive community process that is centered in centers the vision and experience of residents of the Morningside and West Side Neighborhoods in Pittsfield. The Pittsfield Gray to Green Working Group, made up of community and private organizations, environment-focused groups, residents, and BRPC planners kicks off this month to begin developing the framework for the 5-year initiative. Covid-19 safe community meetings and workshops will begin in Spring/Summer 2021.

Contact Allison Egan, Senior Planner and Project Lead, for more information:
Berkshire County Boards of Health to Receive Public Health Equipment

Berkshire County Boards of Health Association in coordination with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Public Health Program and the City of Pittsfield Health Department are working together with the Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (WRHSAC) to obtain public health equipment and resources to support local Boards of Health in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies such as COVID19. Berkshire County Boards of Health are on track to receive substantial supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and hand sanitizer, sign boards and signs to remind everyone to continue to wear masks and social distance, and soon, a fully equipped mobile public health trailer that will be housed with the Pittsfield Health Department. This 20-foot trailer will be available this spring to support public health and safety operations in the region such as vaccination clinics.
Regional Bike Share Study Underway

In January, a kick-off meeting for the Pittsfield Region Bike Share Feasibility was held. BRPC staff is partnering with the City of Pittsfield and Alta Planning to conduct a county-wide bike share feasibility study. The study is funded through a workforce transportation grant from MassDOT, with match provided by each of the municipalities involved. The study will examine potential locations for a system of rentable e-bikes throughout the county. Bike share stations will be located with an eye toward enhancing options for commuters and low-income workers, as well as providing connections to and from the BRTA bus routes. A bike share system in the Berkshires could also provide transportation for tourists and visitors to the area. The study will conclude in June, with a final report that will provide detailed recommendations, anticipated costs, and plans for both pilot-scale and county-wide implementation. This is an exciting opportunity for the region which will provide a clean, alternative mode of transportation. For more information, contact Eammon Coughlin at