February 10th Information &
Resource Update
DOER Releases Straw Proposal for Stretch Code Update
and New Specialized Stretch Code

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has released a Straw Proposal containing proposed updates to the existing Stretch Code and a framework for a new Specialized Stretch Code, for stakeholder review and comment.

Click here to access the Straw Proposal. The proposal covers both residential and commercial construction.

DOER held a virtual briefing webinar on February 8th; a recording of that webinar can be accessed at this link

DOER is seeking comment on this Straw Proposal and will hold geographically-targeted public hearings in late February/early March to receive verbal public comment. Detailed information about the public hearings will be listed on DOER's homepage. DOER highly encourages written comments be submitted electronically to [email protected] with the subject line “Stretch Code Straw Proposal Comments”. Written comments will be accepted until 5:00 PM EST on March 9th, 2022. Written comments may also be submitted via mail to the Department of Energy Resources, 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 1020, Boston, MA 02114, attention Nina Mascarenhas. 

MetroWest Visitors Bureau Mini Grant Program Now Open

The MetroWest Visitors Bureau (MWVB) has announced that their annual mini grant program is now accepting applications. Designed for marketing projects that will promote tourism in MetroWest, mini grants are available for funds up to $5,000 each. The MWVB will consider applications for projects devoted to marketing a MetroWest event, attraction, business, service, or cultural or recreational offering.

The applicant does not need to be a 501(c)3 charitable organization, but must be based in one of the 19 municipalities the organization serves, or be devoted to attracting potential visitors to those 19 towns. Communities served are Ashland, Bellingham, Framingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopedale, Hopkinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Medway, Milford, Millis, Natick, Northborough, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, and Westborough.

Eligible projects include brochures, print or online advertising, social media, websites, apps, and other print materials. The marketing project must be targeted, at least partially, at potential visitors who live more than 50 miles from the event or business location. Grant applications can be submitted online at this link, and will be reviewed on a rolling basis from now until April 1st. Awarded grant funds must be spent prior to June 30th, 2022. For questions, or to discuss your project idea prior to submitting an application, please contact MWVB Executive Director Erin Lynch at [email protected].
NEXT WEEK: Presentation on
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program

The Energy and Sustainable Development Committee of the 495/MetroWest Partnership will host representatives from MassDevelopment to present on the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program this coming Tuesday, February 15th at 8:30 AM. This event will take place virtually via Zoom; click here to register.

PACE is a new mechanism to finance energy improvements, such as energy-efficiency projects, renewables, and gas line extensions on commercial and industrial properties in Massachusetts. To finance improvements, a property owner agrees to a betterment assessment on their property, which repays the financing. This approach enables owners to undertake more comprehensive energy upgrades with longer payback periods of up to 20 years. At property sale, the lien stays with the property and is transferred to subsequent property owners. Properties eligible for financing through PACE include commercial buildings, industrial buildings, and multi-family buildings with five or more units. Individual municipalities may opt into PACE one time by a majority vote of the city or town council or the board of selectmen, as appropriate.

Following the presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of MassDevelopment representatives. For more information on the PACE program, click here.
Public Hearings: MBTA Proposed Fare Changes

The MBTA is hosting a series of virtual public hearings to solicit public feedback for a suite of proposed fare and policy changes aimed at improving system-wide equity and flexibility across all modes. The MBTA will host two hearings on “Fare Tariff Changes” in February, and two hearings on “Fare Media Changes” in March.

The February meetings will address the following proposed changes:
  • Permanent 5-Day FlexPasses on Commuter Rail
  • Lower pricing for 1-Day LinkPasses
  • A new 7-Day LinkPass for reduced fare riders
  • Expanding Reduced Fare Monthly Passes to all modes
  • Second transfers on bus and subway and transfers between Express Buses

The March meetings will address the following proposed changes:
  • Ending passbacks, or discontinuing the ability to tap multiple riders through a gate with one card (“passback”). This will enable the introduction of mobile and contactless payments, and integrate the Commuter Rail without creating pricing errors.
  • Fare media per rider: Riders aged 12 and older will need to have their own fare media to provide proof of payment and to ensure there are no duplicate charges at fare gates and on fare readers.
  • “One more trip” protection on Charlie Cards: The new fare media will allow riders to board with low/zero balance to improve convenience and avoid leaving riders stranded.
  • $3 Fare media fee and free card distribution: There will be a $3 card cost per new Charlie Card and Mobile Charlie Card, with some exceptions.

If approved, these changes will take effect July 1st, 2022. The MBTA is collecting public feedback to understand how these changes will affect riders. Public comments will be accepted until March 3rd, 2022 via email to [email protected]. For more information about the proposed changes, click here.

To register for an upcoming virtual public hearing, click the respective link below:
Destination Development Capital Grant Now Open

The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT) has opened applications for the Destination Development Capital (DDC) Grant II Program. The DDC Grant II is a competitive program that will award funds to strengthen the economy of Massachusetts through destination development projects that enhance tourism recovery, support the statewide My Local MA campaign, and have the potential to increase non-resident visitation. Funds will be used for covering administrative expenses, adapting programming to cope with COVID-19 and planning efforts to develop creative solutions to build and transform the tourism and hospitality sector to adapt to the post-pandemic environment. 

Eligible projects will enhance tourism resources and infrastructure and will aid in destination recovery and resiliency. Applications will be accepted for projects that include plans to expand, construct, restore or renovate Massachusetts tourism destinations and attractions. Applicants must demonstrate how the tourism capital project will work to promote the tourism goals of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and the corresponding Regional Tourism Council. Successful tourism capital projects will also complement the goals and strategies of the statewide My Local MA campaign. The DDC grant is focused on capital improvements with a direct relationship to tourism, and other physical/structural items with a greater than five-year lifespan.

To be eligible to apply, an entity must be public agency, municipality, or nonprofit organization incorporated in Massachusetts with 501(c)3, 501(c)4, 501(c)5, 501(c)6, status from the Internal Revenue Service that does one of the following: produces, promotes, or presents tourism attractions and activities for the public and/or provides public access to physical collections and exhibits. Click here to access complete application materials. Applications are due March 31st by 5:00 PM.
Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
Presentation for Boston, Central MPOs

The Transportation Committee of the 495/MetroWest Partnership will host staff representing the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization (Boston MPO) and the Central Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization (CMMPO) to present on their respective Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP) for Fiscal Years 2023-27 on Tuesday, April 5th at 8:30 AM. This event will take place virtually via Zoom; click here to register.

Each MPO, a federally required planning entity for urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000, is annually required to produce a TIP: a five-year, rolling list of regionally significant surface and non-surface transportation projects programmed with federal funding. The event will consist of a presentation from each MPO; both presentations are designed to inform stakeholders of each respective TIP process, timeline, federal funding mechanisms, project evaluation criteria, and an overview of regionally significant projects programmed for funding in the 495/MetroWest region.

For more information about the Boston MPO’s Transportation Improvement Program, click here. For more information about the Central Massachusetts MPO’s Transportation Improvement Program, click here
Your Feedback Sought: Proposed 2022-2027 Strategic Plan
for the 495/MetroWest Partnership

The 495/MetroWest Partnership's Board of Directors will consider a new five-year Strategic Plan for the organization at its March 2022 quarterly meeting. We are pleased to present a draft of the new plan, along with opportunities for stakeholders to provide feedback before the plan comes before the Board for formal action.

The Partnership is actively seeking feedback on our draft 2022-2027 Strategic Plan before it is formally adopted by the Board of Directors at their March meeting. The Partnership has created multiple avenues for any interested stakeholder to offer feedback on the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan:

  • Submit feedback via email: Feedback or questions may be submitted to Executive Director Jason Palitsch at any time via email, at [email protected]
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you:
Jason Palitsch, Executive Director
(774) 760-0495 x105

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.