The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRP) is currently working on a collaborative project with local communities to look at growth, specifically in the areas of development, land preservation, higher education, and infrastructure. The project will result in a set of priorities for development and preservation in each of the towns as well as within the region. The communities of Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton, and Uxbridge are included in this effort. CMRPC has been collecting data for the project through meetings with staff members, Boards of Selectmen, and other participants, as well as reviews of master plans, open space plans, and other community documents.
The final result of the project will be a set of priorities for protection, development and transportation improvements throughout the Blackstone Valley. These priorities will help decision-making about specific activities connected to development and preservation at the local, regional, and state levels. It is also anticipated that future grant and funding decisions in Massachusetts will give preference to projects identified through this effort.
The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor is actively participating in this endeavor. “The Corridor Commission has always believed that sustainable economic development and heritage preservation are not mutually exclusive but go hand in hand,” said Donna Williams, chair of the Commission. “Our historic and natural resources are economic assets, and a healthy economy helps us take care of those resources. Improving transportation and other infrastructure not only helps our businesses, but, if done right, it can help us protect our natural and historic resources.” The Commission is especially interested in the regional approach taken by CMRPC. “It is critical that our Towns pool their resources to address challenges and opportunities that are really regional in scale,” according to Williams. “And let’s not forget that what makes the Blackstone Valley such a special place is not just individual sites or structures, and that we should try to protect our larger landscapes, as well.”
At a public forum on June 26th, CMRPC staff will present information and maps showing the areas that have been identified as locally significant in each town. These may include specific sites, districts, neighborhoods, landscapes, water resources, and infrastructure elements. During the forum, citizens and interested parties will have an opportunity to review the data and the maps, give feedback about areas they feel are important to emphasize and discuss how to balance development and preservation.
The public forum will be held on Thursday, June 26th in the cafeteria at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton, MA. There will be an Open House from 5:30 to 6:30, with the presentation and public forum beginning at 7:00 PM. For more information, contact the CMRPC at 508.756.7717 or see the website at http://cmrpc.org/bvpp.