Summer 2016
NEWS & NOTES
A quarterly newsletter to keep you informed.


CMRPC staff, acknowledging the retirement of Mike Dunne, Homeland Security Grants Manager.
Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner
CMRPC's 53rd Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner was held on June 9th at the Leicester Country Club. After golfing nine holes, attendees enjoyed a buffet dinner. The keynote speaker was Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. He talked about the Baker Administration's approach to community development, job creation and business development.

Awardees were acknowledged for their diligent service to member communities and CMRPC. Kelly Brown was recognized with the Community Development Award for outstanding technical support and collaboration in assisting member communities achieve  Green Community status. The Transportation Planning Award went to Kathlyn Inman for  her outstanding leadership in facilitating implementation of the  Barre Town Common  Project through the Central Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization Planning Process. For their outstanding leadership in launching the  Worcester Regional Food Hub , the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts, and the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts shared the Regional Collaboration Award. Philip Hubbard and Bruce Davis were both recognized with Delegate/Alternate Service Awards for their time as Alternates and Executive Committee Members for CMRPC. 

Staff Milestone Awards
Richard Rydant, Transportation Planning - 25 years
Matthew Franz, Municipal Collaboration and Regional Services- 10 years
John Brennan, Transportation Planning - 10 years
Edward Bromage, Transportation Modeling - 10 years

The following Slate of Officers was approved at the Annual Meeting:

Chairperson Denzil Drewry, Westborough
Vice Chairperson John F. Knipe, Jr., Shrewsbury
Treasurer Otto Lies, Holden
Clerk Timothy H. Wheeler, Berlin
Asst. Treasurer Howard Drobner, Boylston
Asst. Clerk Robert Hassinger, Grafton

The following Sub-regional Representatives were also approved:

Central City Greg Baker, Worcester
Northeast Kathleen M. Keohane, Shrewsbury
North Charles Richard Williams, Rutland
West Mary Walter, North Brookfield
Southeast James R. Bates Jr., Upton
Southwest Terrence A. Cummings, Oxford

 

Community Development and Planning
Catalyzing Growth Through Innovation, Art, and Kitty Sweaters: CMRPC Launches Region-Wide Creative Economy Initiative
CMRPC is spearheading an exciting project focused on Central Massachusetts' creative economy. Multiple goals underpin the initiative, including development of a creative economy toolkit and convening the Central MA Creative Economy Network. Through this effort, we aim to better support the efforts of creative individuals, organizations, and the Region as a whole. We hope you will join us, even if you think your community doesn't lend itself to creative  industry, it surely does.
 
For many people, the term "creative economy" denotes pop-up galleries and musical productions. While many creative sectors contain these elements, the term includes a myriad of cultural and creative industries that "lie at the crossroads of arts, culture, business and technology."[1] Beyond arts and entertainment, the creative economy includes advertising and marketing, publishing, architecture, biotechnology business incubation, game design, and poets. To quote one creative economy guru, "makers of kitty sweaters and roboticists alike." Thus, every community in Central Massachusetts has creative assets that can be nurtured.
 
Supporting the efforts of creative individuals and organizations encourages municipal vibrancy, home-grown business development and the economic and social benefits that come with increased tax bases, destination making, and equitable growth. We encourage you to help us identify such elements in your community by completing a brief creative asset inventory.  If you are directly involved in the creative economy, we appreciate your participation in a creator survey . For more information, please contact Dominique DuTremble at ddutremble@cmrpc.orgWe look forward to connecting with you on this initiative!

Village District Zoning Bylaw
This District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) Project is intended to provide for the development and implementation of a Village District-based zoning bylaw. Phase 1 of this Project led to a CMRPC-based Model Village District Zoning Bylaw. With the model in hand, CMRPC then worked with a set of seven communities in Phase II of this Project in customizing a Village District Bylaw tailored for the characteristics of their respective Village areas. The seven communities are the towns of West Boylston, Upton, Dudley, Holden, Grafton, Millville, and Auburn. For more information, contact Dominique DuTremble at  ddutremble@cmrpc.org.
Central Mass DataCommon
The purpose of the DataCommon project is to develop, maintain, and enhance the Central Mass DataCommon site, an interactive data portal and visualization tool developed for Central Massachusetts. 

Phase III of the project continues collecting of data and the implementing the Community Indicators Project as designed by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) team in late 2015. Students conducted research on models and best practices, interviewed players from national and local indicators programs, and identified a community of stakeholders in the region interested in the initiative. The IQP developed a final report of their findings and recommendations, as well as a marketing video targeted at potential stakeholders and community partners. The video features interviews with Tim McGourthy, Executive Director of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau; Jessica Martin, Director of the Boston Indicators Project; Chris Ryan, Community Development and Planning Program Manager of CMRPC; Jan Yost, Executive Director of the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts; and Laura Roberts, Assistant Director of the Worcester Community Project Center of WPI. The project video can be viewed hereFor more information, please contact Dominique DuTremble at  ddutremble@cmrpc.org
Priority Development Area (PDA) Site Analysis
PDA Site Analysis projects are an extension of the Regional Prioritization Projects completed in late 2013. The objective of the program is to provide participating communities with information for a priority development area that would guide communities in identifying possible zoning changes, 43D applications, grant applications (MassWorks), promotions to developers, and templates for future analysis of additional PDAs. Completion of this project positions participating towns favorably for funding from programs such as Massworks, future DLTA projects, and MassDOT.
 
Municipalities encourage planned development activities by identifying opportunities to streamline local planning and permitting processes.  Through thoughtful local planning and implementation, participating communities will be stronger applicants and better poised to answer grant-funding opportunities to promote implementation activities.
In 2016, three initial projects have been authorized ( Grafton, Uxbridge, and Mendon) and staff has programmed from 25 to 40 hours for each identified PDA.  The work includes a development suitability analysis for an old mill, a visual preference survey for a community in southeast Worcester County, and a corridor study in Mendon.  A second round of PDAs was solicited in the second quarter of 2015.  For more information, please contact Chris Ryan at cryan@cmrpc.org.
Rutland-Barre Shared Professional Planner 
This is a new project from the Community Compact Cabinet program that focuses on regional collaboration and best practices for community services. Barre and Rutland each have a need for professional planning services to assist their respective planning boards in the full range of town planner services often needed by communities. CMRPC proposes providing the two towns with four hours per week of resident planner service on site, each on separate days. Note that regardless of where the planner was in residence on a specific day, applicants for either community may visit and receive service. For more information, please contact Jeffrey Bagg at jbagg@cmrpc.org.
Energy Planning
The Green Communities Designation and Grant Program allows municipalities who meet five criteria to become eligible for grant funding to finance additional energy efficiency and  renewable energy projects at the local level. This year CMPRC is working with six  communities to help them achieve Green Communities Designation - Charlton, New Braintree , Northbridge, Southbridge, West Brookfield, and Warren. O utside of the Green Communities Program, w e are working with Auburn to conduct a behavioral energy audit,   with Barre, Dudley and Hardwick to help administer their Green Communities Grants, and with Worcester to conduct an analysis of additional energy reduction options. We would be happy to work with your community to help you reduce your  energy use and save money. Please contact Danielle Mucciarone at  dmucciarone@cmprc.org if you are interested in working with us.  
Environmental Planning
Water connects all of our communities and is crucial to the health and well-being of our region. Along these lines, we are working to expand our planning efforts in the water of water quality and storm water. Recently, CMRPC and Mass Audubon received a grant through the Environmental Protection Agency and the New England Institute Water Pollution Control Commission Narragansett Bay Estuary Program to reduce nutrient pollution in the Blackstone watershed by incorporating Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development (LID) techniques into local zoning regulations. Working with Auburn, Grafton, Mendon, and Worcester we conducted a thorough analysis of their zoning by-laws and made suggestions for changes to incorporate LID. The Town of Millbury focused on a Green Infrastructure plan for their downtown, which incorporated LID while also encouraging walkability.

CMRPC also received a grant through the Department of Environmental Protection 604b
 Program to help the Town of Sturbridge encourage LID through implementation of a LID by-law and education and outreach. The project also involves a conceptual design for stormwater upgrades to the parking lot at Old Sturbridge Village. The 604b grant program helps fund water quality planning projects that will result in water quality improvements.
If you are interested in participating in this program, please contact Danielle Mucciarone at  dmucciarone@cmrpc.org.

We are also available to assist municipalities with education and outreach, training, report writing, zoning analysis, and more specifically,  stormwater management under the MS4 Phase 2 Stormwater Permit. Again, please contact Danielle Mucciarone at  dmucciarone@cmrpc.org  for more information.
Health Planning
The Community Development and Planning Department has also expanded health planning through the Community Indicators Project. The Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB) awarded CMRPC a mini-grant of $8,000 to kick start the Community Indicators Project, which is based off of the Boston Indicators Project and is intended to increase opportunities for healthy living and eating by creating conditions that reinforce beneficial behaviors for people of all ages and abilities. CMRPC is currently working with Barre, Blackstone, and Charlton to identify indicators of active living, healthy eating, and safe physical environments. Our work concludes in June 2016, but we plan to continue to expand our health planning throughout the region. Please contact Hoamy Tran at  htran@cmrpc.org if you are interested. 

Municipal Collaboration & Regional Services
Central Mass Grown
Since April 2015, Central Mass Grown has:
  • Distributed 13,000 copies of our Farm Product Guide throughout the region and the state.
  • Obtained non-profit tax status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Amassed over 1,500 Facebook followers, and almost 500 Twitter followers
  • Grown our membership 110 to 163 farms, restaurants, retailers, distributors. (A growth rate of over 50%!)
  • Received our first grant as a non-profit organization
  • Produced and distributed bumpers stickers, static decals, lawn signs, and reusable shopping bags to help promote the Central Mass Grown brand.
  • Hosted our first Chef to Farm Tour
  • Hosted New Entry Sustainable Farming Project/Carrot Project Making it Happen Workshop for beginning farmers
  • Promoted Central Mass Grown at the following events:
In the next year, you can expect bigger and more exciting activities, including:
  • Promotion at more events in the region and across the state
  • An improved website 
  • Better and broader traditional and social networking and media
  • Distribution of 20,000 copies of the 2016 Farm Product Guide
  • A stronger and more connected network of Central Mass Grown members
  • More educational opportunities for our members
  • Enhanced outreach to area schools, restaurants, vendors, and distributors.
For more information, please contact Derrick Mathieu at derrick@centralmassgrown.org.
Regional Historic Commission Workshops
After compiling our Region's Historic Commissions, Historic District Commissions, Historic Societies and Historic Museums, we asked what their top priorities are right now and what they would like to learn to help them do their jobs. We coordinated a meeting to get a better sense of the kind of workshops we should do. As of right now, we are planning a meeting in late September with Chris Skelly from the  Massachusetts Historical Commission  and other speakers. We intend to talk about historic preservation; what a Historic Commission is and does, how to establish a local Historic Commission/Historic District Commission, how to build public support, Demolition Delay bylaws, and the Brookfield Adena Burial Site Project  (a Native American burial ground preservation). From this workshop, we hope to schedule another with new topics and new attendees. For more information, please contact Trish Settles at tsettles@cmrpc.org.
Barre Business Partnership
In the past, the Barre Business Association was formed to help the businesses of Barre join together, giving them a voice for the town to hear. Unfortunately, the Association, after time, was not viable. CMRPC staff quiried some of Barre's businesses to determine if they would be interested in reviving a similar association.
Staff met with the Town Administrator, town officials, and some active businesses in Barre and as a result of said meeting, staff compiled a survey to determine the interest level for a new "Barre Business Partnership". The survey will also help staff determine if the businesses would prefer to join the business partnership of a regional chamber of commerce.
Since Barre is a destination spot along the Route 122 Scenic Byway, tourism might also be explored.
For more information, please contact Derrick Mathieu at  dmathieu@cmrpc.org
Lost Villages Scenic Byway
Three kiosks and posters have been installed in Rutland, Oakham, and Barre. The signs are now being laminated to increase lifespan (reduce/delay decay from UV exposure).  Brochure dispensers are being bought and installed to protect from rain and allow for ease of use. Progress has been made in  developing town-specific brochures. Finally,  for permitting purposes,  s igns along Route 122 have been identified through GPS coordinates. For more information, please contact Trish Settles at tsettles@cmrpc.org.
Commonwealth Community Compacts
Twenty-eight of our Communities 
are engaged in Community Compacts, a program created by Governor Baker's first Executive Order. Ten have indicated that regionalization/shared services are a top priority and all together our twenty-eight communities have established fifty-eight commitments. The next most popular areas of improvement are: Capital Planning; Land Use or Other Planning (Housing, Economic Development); Information Technology; and Financial Policies. Other topics in which some of our towns are interested include: Other Financial improvements; Infrastructure or similar initiatives (e.g. Complete Streets); Comprehensive Water Resource Management; Citizen Safety; Safe Older Drivers; Facility improvements; and Coordination Collaboration - Early Education.

At meetings with our towns, attendees have communicated success in working with local coalitions such as the Central MA Stormwater Coalition and the Central MA Public Health District. They have made suggestions on
 how to broach certain topics such as regionalization. Attendees have shared how their town is able to help other towns in providing certain services. The dialogues staff has held have been very revealing, allowing us to know our region's needs, interests, and available capital that can be used to coordinate and organize more efficient and effective systems of service delivery. For more information, please contact Derrick Mathieu at dmathieu@cmrpc.org.
Pre-Disaster Mitigation Planning
Pre-disaster mitigation training has taken place in thirteen of CMRPC's towns, (Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Holden, Hopedale, Mendon, Millville, Oxford, Paxton, Princeton, Sutton, West Brookfield, and Westborough). Additionally, staff has submitted proposals to update 27 towns. Presentations to Boards of Selectmen have been completed for the Towns of Oxford and Sutton and are scheduled for the Towns of: Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Millville, Paxton, and Princeton. The others have yet to establish a presentation date. This effort is aimed at improving our towns' ability to identify natural hazard threats that can be solved now instead of waiting for another disaster (e.g. fixing sewer drainage or culverts so that flooding isn't a problem the next time the 100 year storm arrives). The most striking statistic from a study staff is sourcing says that for every dollar that municipalities spend on solving and mitigating further problems, there's a four dollar return. Spend $1, save $4! For more information, please contact Derrick Mathieu at dmathieu@cmrpc.org.
Transportation
Complete Streets
A Complete Street is one that provides safe
and accessible options for all modes of
travel: walking, bicycling, transit, and vehicles for people of all ages and abilities. Improvements related to Complete Streets can take many forms ranging from corridor wide projects to smaller-scale fixes that are focused on a single mode of travel. MassDOT has recently kicked-off a Complete Streets Funding Program to provide technical assistance and incentives for adoption of Complete Streets policies at the municipal level. The goal of the program is to encourage municipalities to adopt a strategic and comprehensive approach to Complete Streets, rather than simply seeking funding for a single project, through Complete Streets Prioritization Plans. The idea is to facilitate better pedestrian, bicycle, and transit travel for users of all ages and abilities by addressing critical gaps in pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure with a focus on safety.  There are three tiers of entry into the MassDOT program: (1) Complete Streets Policy Development, (2) Complete Streets Prioritization Plan Development, and (3) Project Approval and Notice to Proceed for Construction.  CMRPC Transportation Staff have been working with approximately twelve communities in the region regarding Complete Streets policy implementation, planning, and prioritization. Staff has helped municipalities tailor policies to fit the town's character while reflecting the ten key policy elements provided in MassDOT guidance. MassDOT will score adopted policies based on their stated level of commitment to aligning transportation infrastructure planning, design, construction and maintenance practices to Complete Streets principles. Policies need a score of 80/100 to be eligible for funding through the program. CMRPC Staff would be happy to discuss policy development with member municipalities, or any other aspect of the Complete Streets Funding Program.  For more information, contact Dan Daniska at ddaniska@cmrpc.org or 508-459-3331.
Youth Transportation in Worcester
Staff intern, Madilyn Jacobsen, is currently collaborating with CMRPC's Transportation Division and Clark University's Urban Development and Social Change Department to perform a study on the mobility of youth (ages 9-17) in Worcester. The goal of the study is to gain an understanding of the current means of transportation and mobility are for youth in the City from the perspective of agencies that engage with youth outside school. The study is aimed at defining essential youth services and identifying areas where potential improvements can be made to best engage with youth. As a part of her research, she is surveying youth serving agencies across Worcester to determine their perspectives and reflections on the current status of youth mobility in Worcester. At the end of the study, Madilyn will be presenting a list of recommendations for the Worcester Regional Transit Authority and other stakeholders in Transportation Development in Worcester to best plan for the needs of youth (ages 9-17) in land-use and transit planning.For more information, please contact Madilyn Jacobsen at mjacobsen@cmrpc.org .
Addressing Transportation Gaps to Healthcare 
Access 
Last year, CMRPC and the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) applied for a Healthcare Access Mobility Design Challenge, a Federal Ride to Wellness Initiative under the Ladders of Opportunity Program.  During the course of this program, CMRPC and the WRTA worked in collaboration with the Family Health Community Center of Worcester (FHC) to design a solution that will improve access to healthcare. Currently, the healthcare facility receives 85,000 to 105,000 patients visits per year, an average of 300 to 400 patients per day. Nonetheless, 15% of the patients missed their appointments. The rate is even higher in wintertime at 18%. Our research exposed the fact that 52% of those missed appointments are related to some type of transportation problem. When trying to  access the healthcare facility,  patients mentioned  difficulties walking to the facility, problems with bus lateness or no shows, a lack of money to pay for the bus fare or taxi fare, or a reliance on someone else to give them a ride. From the WRTA side, almost 20% of trips are for medical purposes, as revealed the 2014 Customer Service Survey. This data is supported by the fact that all the stops at healthcare facilities located along a bus route have high boarding and alighting numbers. As an example, UMass Medical School bus stop is one of the top 5 stops with the highest ridership in the whole system. The FHC bus stop ranks among the top 50 stops.
 
Data aside, CMRPC reached out to the community to talk with people about their transportation needs and what could be a better way to access a health care facility. Some of the organizations staff contacted were: Worcester Community Connections Coalition, the South East Asian Coalition, Neighbor to Neighbor, the Latino Elder Program at Centros Las Americas, the  Regional Coordinating Council people at the WRTA transit hub and patients at the FHC waiting area.
 
Staff found that there is a need and a demand for a service that ties scheduling healthcare appointments with the patient's transportation needs. This connection will be possible through a web-based interface that will assist the scheduler at the healthcare facility. They should be able to schedule the patient's appointment at a time when transportation is available to the patient based on their preferences. The transportation options range from public transportation, taxis, demand-response service, Uber, and paratransit, among other options. The interface will be supported by the 1-Click open source platform developed by Cambridge Systematics. Now that the project is finally completed, it has called the attention of other healthcare facilities nationwide which will finance the software development or will identify other grant opportunities for future project implementation. For more information, please contact Yahaira Graxirena at ygraxirena@cmrpc.org.
CMRPC Expanding

CMRPC is excited to announce that it is fully staffed thanks to the addition of seven new hires!  Over the past several months, CMRPC has expanded its ranks to better serve the Region's forty communities. From administration to transportation,  Jayne Armington, Jeffrey Bagg, Todd Fontanella, Andrew Loew, Patrick McCabe, Connor Robichaud, and Melissa Santley bring a diverse set of skills to the Commission.

For more information on our new employees, check out our New Hire Press Release!