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Rural Policy Advisory Commission Draft MA Rural Policy Plan available for public review

The Rural Policy Advisory Commission (RPAC) has drafted a Rural Policy Plan to identify, highlight and offer policy recommendations related to the unique issues and challenges faced by rural Massachusetts. The Plan provides a socioeconomic summary of rural Massachusetts and addresses 15 focus areas identified through listening sessions held in late 2018. The goal of the RPP is to provide a thorough but succinct outline of each Focus Area that identifies the issue and highlights sub-regional differences, describes current related state policies and a best practices from MA or another part of the country or world, and provides prioritized recommendations. Members of the RPAC and rural Regional Planning Agencies have shared in the effort to engage and solicit input from a large swath of stakeholders throughout Massachusetts through meetings and other efforts, and are sharing in the writing of the Plan.

Chapters of the Plan are available for public review from now until July 30th when the RPAC meets to finalize top priorities.  The availability of draft chapters is highlighted below. It is hoped that all chapters will be available for review by July 12th. Please check back regularly if the chapters you are interested in are not yet posted. To provide feedback and other comments, please email lindad@frcog.org.

Introduction

Broadband and Cell Coverage

Climate Change and Resiliency

Cross-Jurisdictional Service Sharing

Economic Development

Education

Housing

Land Use and Working Landscapes

Municipal Board and Staffing Constraints

Municipal Financial Capacity Constraints

Public Health and Healthcare

Reversing Population Trends

Transportation – Other Modes

Transportation – Roads, Bridges and Culverts

Water and Sewer Infrastructure

Workforce needs

Help prepare for the 2020 Census

Join us on June 5th for the Franklin County Complete Count Committee Kick-off!

Next year, the U.S. Census Bureau will seek to count all residents of Franklin County as part of the 2020 Census. This decennial census is different from past years. For example, households will be asked for the first time to respond online, as opposed to filling out a paper form and mailing it. This Census data will be used to determine legislative districts and how federal resources are distributed for years to come. We need to ensure that the 2020 Census counts everyone!

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) is forming the Franklin County Complete Count Committee to develop strategies and form partnerships to best prepare Franklin County households. If you would like to be part of this effort, please join us on Wednesday, June 5 at 3:00 pm in the 1st floor meeting room of the JWO Transit Center at 12 Olive Street, Greenfield, MA or contact Jessica Atwood at jatwood@frcog.org. For additional information about the upcoming census, please check out the “Census 2020, Make Yourself Count” factsheet from the NALEO Educational Fund (www.naleo.org/census2020).

Erving Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Plan is Available for Review and Comment

The Town of Erving’s draft Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Resiliency Plan is available for public review and comment. Click here to read the MVP Plan and/or attend the Erving MVP public meeting, held in conjunction with the Erving Select Board meeting on March 25th at 6:35 pm at Erving Town Hall.  Public comments will be accepted during the meeting as well as during a public comment period from March 18th through April 1st. You may hand in your comments at the public meeting or submit them online at www.erving-ma.gov/emergency-management/pages/municipal-vulnerability-preparedness.

You may also mail comments to:

Franklin Regional Council of Governments
12 Olive Street, Suite 2
Greenfield, MA 01301
Attention: Kimberly Noake MacPhee

Public Review of the Draft Massachusetts State Bicycle Plan until January 31, 2019

The Massachusetts State Bicycle Plan is currently out for public review and is accepting comments until January 31, 2019.  Please visit the MassDOT website for further information and links to the full version of the Plan.

MassDOT is focused on making the Commonwealth’s transportation system more sustainable – to make it safe for people to choose to walk, bike, and take transit for more of their daily trips.  The Plan is important because residents, members of the business community and visitors choose to use a bicycle for daily trips, choosing bike to work, to school, to run errands, for recreation or to reach transit locations.

The Draft Plan defines a vision for Massachusetts in which all people have a safe and comfortable cycling option for short trips.  The goal is to have a plan which presents an action-oriented strategy which will lead to increased use of trails for short trips made by bicycling.  Travel on designated bike and pedestrian thoroughfares will also lead to safer conditions, helping to prevent injuries and fatalities.  The draft plan goes into further detail about the state of biking today.

In addition to the Plan, a companion document was created, called the Municipal Resource Guide for Bikeability, in recognition of the important role local cities and towns play. The purpose of the guide is to support cities and towns in their efforts to improve bikeability as the vast majority of roadways and shared use paths statewide are under local ownership. A draft guide was released in November of 2018 and an updated version will be published with the final Bicycle Plan early next year.

For more information on the Bicycle Plan and to provide feedback: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/bicycle-plan.

Notice of Public Comment regarding Transportation Enhancements Funding

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) intends to use a portion of Transportation Enhancements funding originally approved in the 2009 Transportation Improvement Program for the Mohawk Trail and the Connecticut River Scenic Byway, on the Route 112 Scenic Byway instead.  The funding will be used for land protection as originally intended. This notice invites all interested parties who wish to comment on this change to submit them to the FRCOG during the public comment period running from December 21, 2018 to January 14, 2019.  For further information, or to submit comments, please contact the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, located at 12 Olive Street, Suite 2, Greenfield, MA, by calling (413) 774-3167 ext. 125, or emailing giannini@frcog.org.

FRCOG Wants to Hear Your Thoughts on Transportation in the Region!

The FRCOG is currently updating the Regional Transportation Plan.  This plan is updated every 4 years and examines the current state of the transportation system in the region, including all modes of transportation – such as driving, walking, biking, and riding the bus or train.  The plan also identifies the long-term transportation needs of the region and prioritizes projects and activities. This plan will give Franklin County the opportunity to identify needed projects; address environmental and safety concerns; and meet the growing economic development needs of the region.

As part of the planning process, the FRCOG wants input from Franklin County residents and employees.  There will be 4 public meetings around the County to get feedback on transportation needs and priorities (see dates below). If you are unable to attend a meeting, please take our survey to let us know your thoughts: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2019RTPsurvey.

  • Tuesday, December 11th ( 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.) Town of Colrain Highway Garage, 55 Main Road, Colrain, MA (snow date December 12th)
  • Tuesday, January 8th (5:30 – 7:00 p.m.) Erving Senior Center, 1 Care Drive, Erving, MA (snow date January 9th)
  • Wednesday, January 9th (12:00 – 1:30 p.m.) John W. Olver Transit Center, First Floor Meeting Room, 12 Olive Street, Greenfield, MA (snow date January 10th)
  • Wednesday, January 16th (5:30 – 7:00 p.m.) Sunderland Library, 20 School Street, Sunderland, MA (snow date of January 17th)

Regional Transportation Plan Outreach Meetings Flyer

For more information, please contact Megan Rhodes, Senior Transportation & Land Use Planner at mrhodes@frcog.org or (413)774-3167 x 132.

Rural Policy Advisory Commission Listening Sessions

Listening Sessions

A series of listening sessions has recently been scheduled to gather input from community leaders regarding the suggested focus areas to be included in the development of the Massachusetts Rural Policy Plan.  Listening sessions will be held in several regions across the Commonwealth.

A survey is available to provide input at the RPAC SURVEY –https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RPAC2018

The Western Massachusetts listening sessions are:

  • 12/6   6 PM  at Berkshire Regional Planning Commission register at info@berkshireplanning.org
  • 12/11  5PM at Pioneer Valley Planning Commission register at lgallagher@pvpc.org
  • 12/13 5PM at GCC Downtown  — register at registrations@frcog.org

Click here for Rural Policy Advisory Commission website. 

Municipal Financial Management Workshop Materials

This workshop on 11/8 featured FRCOG Municipal Financial Management Specialist Joe Markarian, who joined us after a long career of supporting towns in improving their financial management practices at the Technical Assistance Bureau of the Massachusetts Division of Local Services.

Materials from the training:
Municipal Calendar from the DOR Division of Local Services
Slides from the workshop
Finance Seminar Spreadsheets
Some cyber-security tips from Mass.Gov

Shelburne Falls Receives American Planning Association (APA) Great Places Designation

The Franklin Regional Council of Government is thrilled to celebrate the designation of the village of Shelburne Falls as one of the American Planning Association’s 2018 Great Places and congratulates the Towns of Buckland and Shelburne.  The village of Shelburne Falls is a 19th-century industrial village that spans the Deerfield River in the towns of Shelburne and Buckland, Massachusetts.  While industry is no longer a significant part of the economy of Shelburne Falls, it remains the historical backdrop of this culturally and community rich village. Shelburne Falls has the structures and layout of a well preserved 19th-century industrial village with a mix of commercial, institutional, and residential land uses. The village has a strong sense of community (the estimated population of the village of Shelburne Falls is 1,632), and a well-established business and cultural center and a destination for visitors to the area. The village is located in Franklin County, a rural region of Massachusetts that is characterized by its scenic landscapes and quality of life. Shelburne Falls is being recognized by the APA as a great neighborhood.  It has been shaped and maintained by many proactive and positive planning initiatives involving both of the towns that share the village. While Shelburne and Buckland are separate towns, in many instances the planning initiatives are completed collaboratively.

For more information on the APA’s Great Places program and Shelburne Fall’s designation see the links below:

https://www.planning.org/greatplaces/

https://www.planning.org/greatplaces/neighborhoods/2018/shelburne/