Thursday, November 1, 2012

Blackstone Valley Priorities Project

The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor invites you to participate in a meeting to review the results of the Blackstone Valley Prioritization Project.  The project is intended to create a regional vision, and to guide the future investment of limited public sector resources.

The meeting is being organized by the Central Mass. Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) in order to discuss the results of this collaboration with local communities to develop priorities for development and preservation in each of the towns as well as throughout the Region.  CMRPC will present the prioritization results and identify next steps on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at Alternatives Unlimited in Whitinsville.  There will be an open house from 6-7 pm, during which time people are free to review maps and materials.  The meeting will be from 7-9 pm.

The communities of Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton, and Uxbridge all participated in the Blackstone Valley Prioritization Project.   CMRPC collected data for the project through meetings with local/town 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 are intended help decision-making about specific development and preservation opportunities 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, President of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, Inc.  “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 Corridor is especially interested in the regional approach taken by CMRPC.  “It is critical that our Towns are communicating with one another so that local actions in one community are consistent with the priorities of its neighbors,” according to Williams.  “What makes the Blackstone Valley such a special place is not just individual sites or structures, but the totality of those sites that make it a Heritage Corridor, and we should try to protect our larger landscapes, as well as drive appropriate redevelopment.” 

At a meeting on November 13th, CMRPC staff will describe how projects might be classified as “regionally significant.” Regionally significant development, preservation and infrastructure projects are expected to receive priority for funding in a variety of competitive state-level programs. 

In addition, there will be a panel discussion of how this information can be put to use in the real world of daily business and local government.  Participants for the panel are still being finalized, but will include prominent business owners and developers, as well as advocates of combining economic development and preservation into a joint strategy for achieving strong and sustainable communities.

The public meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 13th in the theatre at Alternatives Unlimited, Inc., Whitin Mill Complex, on 50 Douglas Road in Whitinsville, MA.  There will be an Open House from 6:00 to 7:00 PM, with the presentation and panel discussion beginning at 7:00 PM.  For more information, contact the CMRPC at 508-756-7717 or see the project website at