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Grant Funding for Field Data Collection for Undersized Culverts

The Division of Ecological Restoration has funding available for Massachusetts municipalities to complete the critical collection of field data for culvert replacement design (field data collection) for a degraded or undersized culvert located in an area of high value for fish and wildlife habitat and which replacement would benefit community and ecological storm resiliency. The purpose of a field data collection is to gather technical information and analyses necessary to engineer and design a culvert or road-stream crossing to meet the goals of the Massachusetts River and Stream Crossing Standards. Eligible Projects must be located on a public way, owned and maintained by the town, and be associated with a freshwater, non-tidal stream crossing. Massachusetts municipalities are eligible to apply.

Interested communities can find more information in the RFR itself and are encouraged to contact Tim Chorey 617-626-1541; timothy.chorey@state.ma.us. LINKED HERE: https://www.commbuys.com/bso/external/bidDetail.sdo?docId=BD-17-1046-DER-FWE01-11818&external=true&parentUrl=bid

The deadline for the application is January 27, 2017. Mr. Chorey can answer questions regarding potential projects up until January 16, 2017. After January 16, 2017, he can only answer technical questions about the application, and they must be submitted by email prior to January 20, 2017 5pm.

Climate Change Survey Open

The FRCOG is in the beginning stages of developing a Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Franklin County and is seeking responses to their Climate Change Adaptation and Resiliency for Franklin County Survey. This survey focuses on Franklin Town towns and how flooding impacts their infrastructure and natural resources.

CLICK HERE to take the survey. And check back for more information on the Climate Change Adaptation Plan, getting underway in 2017!

Development of a Bicycle Tourism Plan

Franklin County’s reputation for first class bicycling continues to grow as the sport becomes more and more popular. In fact, the area was recently considered a potential Olympic venue while Boston was pursuing a chance to host the games.  Low volume back roads through the New England countryside allow cyclists enjoy the beauty around them without the conflict of city traffic.  A wide variety of terrain allows them to choose their level of activity – challenging in the hilltowns of our region, or more leisurely up and down the flatter Connecticut River valley.  Triathlons, dirt off-road races, long distance rides from ice cream stand to ice cream stand are becoming more common in our region.  Family rides along our bikepaths provide additional opportunities for all levels of riders.

canalside-trail-riders

Bicyclists enjoy the Canalside Trail in Turners Falls, a flat trail welcoming to bicyclists of all levels.

It has long been reported that bicyclists come from far and wide specifically to ride in Franklin County. Along with them comes the opportunity to enhance economic development and bring tourism to our area. Across the country, Planners are keying in on just how much the bicycling community can contribute to your town’s economy.  To that end, the FRCOG is kicking off creation of a Bicycle Tourism Plan.  This Plan will bring together many different stakeholders in the bicycling and tourism areas, and will conduct an economic analysis of what bicyclists currently contribute to our economy, as well as identify areas we can target to bring in more business.  Over the last decade the FRCOG has worked diligently to enhance the safety and ability of bicyclists to get around our region, from installing trailblazing signs, to producing free maps of potential routes throughout the County and beyond.  We are excited to use that backdrop to launch our next phase of bicycle planning for the area.

FY18 Budget under development

The FRCOG Finance Committee will be developing the FRCOG’s FY18 budget through the months of December and January.  The budget will be presented to the full Council at the end of January and, once endorsed, sent to all member towns in early February for municipal budgeting purposes.   Early identification of issues to be addressed during the development of the FY18 budget include:

  • Expected staff retirements in FY17, 18 and 19 that will potentially result in increased retiree health insurance costs and transition funding.
  • Potential increase to health insurance costs, especially with the current ambiguity of National Health Care (Obama Care) and possible reverberating costs to all health care systems.
  • Transition to new accounting software that could result in one-time technical support or IT costs.
  • Need to diversify grant sources to be less reliant on federal funding.

As always, the need to create a budget so far in advance results in some uncertainties, perhaps more true this year, but the Finance Committee has become adept at projecting conditions and developing budgets that maintain quality services at the most affordable cost to member towns.  To learn more about the FRCOG budget, refer to the FRCOG Budget Development Workbook.

Greenscape Challenge Aims to Improve Water Quality

Act for cleaner rivers logo finalFall is a great time to get outside and spend time in your yard and gardens. The Greenscape Challenge can help you to decide what projects to focus on which can improve your yard and gardens and help protect water quality at the same time! The Greenscape Challenge, part of a collaborative project between the Town of Greenfield, the FRCOG and Greening Greenfield, is aimed at teaching you about various projects and techniques you can use in your yard and gardens to help reduce stormwater runoff from your property. Stormwater runoff can often carry with it lawn chemicals, motor oil, dog poop, grass clipping and much more, which in turn wash into storm drains and on into our streams and rivers. Take the Greenscape Challenge and join the growing numbers of people working to protect water quality in Greenfield and beyond. Learn more.

Food Access & Public Health Infographics Released

New infographics illustrate the links between income, food access, diet, activity and health and focus primarily on Franklin County data. Funding for the development of these infographics was made available by Mass in Motion. The complete set of infographics is available here.

This infographic highlights the link between lack of good access to food and public health.

This infographic highlights the link between lack of good access to food and public health.

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Kinder Morgan-TGP NED Gas Pipeline Project

Kinder Morgan-TGP NED Gas Pipeline Project Overview: The proposed Kinder Morgan Tennessee/ Gas Company pipeline would have been a new natural gas pipeline that would have directly impacted eight communities in Franklin County. It was proposed to be generally co-located along high voltage electric transmission lines and was approximately 34 miles in length. A large-scale compressor station associated with the pipeline was proposed to be located in Northfield. If it had been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), it would have been the largest infrastructure project since the construction of Interstate 91 in Franklin County. On April 22, 2016 Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) Company suspended further work on the NED pipeline and requested that FERC take no further action. On May 11, 2016 the FRCOG submitted a letter to FERC requesting that FERC deny or dismiss with prejudice the Application for the KM-TGP NED Pipeline.  On May 23, 2016, KM-TGP formally withdrew its Application to FERC.  The FRCOG plans to send a follow-up letter to our Federal Legislators with recommendations to improve the FERC process.  For more information contact Linda Dunlavy at lindad@frcog.org or Peggy Sloan at psloan@frcog.org.