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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

Draft 2020 Unified Planning Work Program Released for Public Comment

The FRCOG has released the draft 2020 Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) for public comment.  Comments on the Draft UPWP will be accepted from Friday, June 28, until Thursday, July 18, 2019.

Franklin 2020 UPWP revised draft

For more information, to submit comments, or to request a hard copy of the UPWP, please contact Megan Rhodes, Senior Transportation and Land Use Planner at mrhodes@frcog.org or (413) 774-3167 extension 132.

 

 

Draft 2020 Regional Transportation Plan Released for Public Comment

The FRCOG has released the draft 2020 Long Range Regional Transportation Plan for public comment.  Comments on the Draft Plan will be accepted from Friday, June 28, until Thursday, July 18, 2019.  The Draft 2020 Regional Transportation Plan can be viewed here. A summary of the Plan can be viewed here.

There will be 2 public forums on Tuesday, July 16th at the JWO Transit Center in Greenfield (12 Olive Street) at 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm to review the draft recommendations of the Plan and to gather public comments.

For more information, to submit comments, or to request a hard copy of the Plan, please contact Megan Rhodes, Senior Transportation and Land Use Planner at mrhodes@frcog.org or (413) 774-3167 extension 132.

What is the state of emergency preparedness in Franklin County?

The Emergency Preparedness Program, with input from selectboards, town administrators, police, fire, emergency medical services, public health, and emergency managers, has drafted a report on the state of emergency preparedness in Franklin County. We are asking stakeholders to review the report and email us with your feedback by the end of August. The “Emergency Preparedness Program Future Plans” chapter, beginning on page 15, outlines how FRCOG Emergency Preparedness staff will focus their efforts over the next five years. We are your partners in emergency preparedness; we can’t do this work without your guidance.

Vision Zero/Distracted Driving Report Available

Vision Zero/Distracted Driving Report

In recent years, a movement has grown that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious road traffic injuries; this movement is known as Vision Zero. Vision Zero urges communities and policymakers to embrace new methodologies to eliminate roadway injuries and death. The current Massachusetts Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) adopts the Vision Zero principle with its long-range goal of zero traffic fatalities.

Distracted driving is a particular focus area of Vision Zero, as it is a problem that may be solved by technology, including the driver assist features of new cars on the road today, and the driverless, autonomous vehicles of the future. In 2019, the FRCOG completed a report on distracted driving crashes in Franklin County. The report found that distracted driving was a factor in 105 of motor vehicle crashes in Franklin County; it identified the most common sources of driver distractions and makes recommendations to support messaging about the dangers of distracted driving and support infrastructure improvements that will accommodate the adoption of driver-assistance technology and other autonomous vehicle systems, known as self-driving cars.

Distracted Driving Crashes Report FINAL

Appendix DD Crashes 2014-2016

For further information please contact Laurie Scarbrough at LScarbrough@frcog.org.

 

 

Congratulations to Charlemont, Colrain, and Heath on becoming designated Green Communities!

Congratulations to Charlemont, Colrain, and Heath on becoming designated Green Communities! The three towns were recognized by State officials at a ceremony in Colrain on May 2. See the official press release from the Department of Energy Resources below. FRCOG staff provided technical assistance to the three towns with their designation efforts. To date, 24 of the 26 towns in Franklin County are Green Communities, with a total of over $5.4 million in grant funds awarded to Franklin County Towns through the program.

Baker-Polito Administration Presents Green Communities Designation Award to Western Massachusetts Municipalities
Seven Communities Receive $927,786 for Energy Efficiency Projects

WESTHAMPTON –– The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded Green Communities designation grants totaling $927,786 to Charlemont, Colrain, Heath, Sandisfield, Westhampton, Wilbraham and Worthington. The awards will fund energy efficiency projects and were presented by Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson during ceremonies in Western Massachusetts.

In December of last year, 30 communities across Massachusetts were designated by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) as Green Communities, committing to an ambitious renewable energy agenda to reduce energy consumption and emissions. With 240 of the Commonwealth’s municipalities having earned their Green Communities designation, 78 percent of residents now live in a Green Community. Since the program began in 2010, DOER’s Green Communities division has awarded over $100 million in grant funding to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns through designation and competitive grant rounds.

“We are proud to support the Green Communities program and the work it allows state and local governments to do in order to protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through responsible clean energy policies,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Cities and towns that participate in the Green Communities program have access to additional resources that help facilitate investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects while reducing energy costs and carbon footprints.”

“These towns are making tremendous strides to reduce energy consumption and save money and this grant funding is another step we are taking to provide cities and towns across the Commonwealth with the tools they need to continue to move Massachusetts forward as a leader in energy efficiency,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

Under the Green Communities Act, cities and towns must meet five criteria to be designated a Green Community and receive funding, including reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent over five years. The 30 newly designated Green Communities have committed to reduce their energy consumption by 293,936 MMBTUs in five years, energy use equivalent to heating and powering 2,281 homes, and greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction of 21,380 metric tons equivalent to taking 4,501 cars off the roads.

“Close collaboration between communities and the Commonwealth is a critical component of efforts to create a cleaner energy future by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “With today’s designation, the Green Communities program continues to prove an effective tool in collaborating with our municipal partners to reduce energy costs, consumption and emissions.”

“The Green Communities program is an important partnership with cities and towns to help them find clean energy solutions that reduce long-term energy costs and strengthen local economies,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. “These grants represent another milestone for both the communities and the Commonwealth as we continue to collaborate to meet our shared energy goals.”

DOER awarded funding for projects in these newly designated Green Communities:

Municipality                Award

Charlemont                 $129,074

Colrain                         $129,880

Heath                          $129,582

Sandisfield                   $128,805

Westhampton             $129,135

Wilbraham                  $152,815

Worthington               $128,495

Under the Green Communities Act, DOER’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program can provide up to $20 million annually to qualified cities and towns.  The goal of the Designation Grant Program is support communities’ investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that further the clean energy goals determined by the designated communities.  Initial Designation Grants are based on a $125,000 base for each designated Green Community, plus additional amounts tied to per capita income and population, and for municipalities that provide as-of-right siting for renewable energy generation.

“I’m thrilled that Charlemont, Heath, Sandisfield, Westhampton and Worthington are now designated as Green Communities,” said State Senator Adam G. Hinds (D- Pittsfield). “Taking this step to improve collective efforts to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy is good news for the entire Commonwealth.”

“I am pleased to see Charlemont, Colrain, and Heath be recognized for their efforts to promote green, renewable energy and mitigate the effects of climate change,” said State Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru). “Increasingly, we understand that our future relies on innovative solutions that foster energy efficiency and a diversified portfolio of renewables. The Green Communities designation helps local municipalities lead the charge towards much needed sustainable solutions and has my full support. Congratulations to these three communities on their efforts.”

Funding for these grants is available through proceeds from the Renewable Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) as well as Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP) paid by retail electric suppliers that do not meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard compliance obligations through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates.

A full list of projects funded by the Green Communities program can be found here.

2018 Annual Report: Hot Off the Presses!

We’re happy to announce the publication of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments 2018 Annual Report.  It contains a general summary of the many projects and services that the FRCOG provided last year to our rural region and the 26 member communities that make up Franklin County.

Our staff of 52 land use, transportation, economic development, emergency preparation, and public health planners; accountants; building, plumbing, wiring, and health inspectors; coalition organizers; administrators; a purchasing official; a public health nurse; and more, are proud of our many accomplishments and the breadth of our services.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about our work. We hope you will enjoy reading about our year!

You’ll find the report in the link below:

FRCOG 2018 Annual Report

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).

New CEDS Committee Forming

In the coming year, FRCOG will lead the creation of the 2020 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Plan for Franklin County. To correspond with the creation and implementation of this new five-year plan, a new CEDS Committee is forming.  The new Committee will have up to 19 members, with seats representing geographic areas, regional economic development entities and at-large participants. If you or someone you know may be a good candidate to be on the CEDS Committee, please contact Jessica Atwood at jatwood@frcog.org or call 413-774-3167 x123. Click here for a CEDS Committee member role description.

MassDOT is seeking input on the 2020-2024 Capital Investment Plan

MassDOT is currently preparing the next five-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP).  The CIP is a spending plan that will guide investments in our transportation system between 2020 and 2024. The CIP prioritizes all transportation projects across the Commonwealth, including highways, municipal projects, regional airports, bike, pedestrian, rail, and transit projects (including the MBTA and Regional Transit Authorities).

MassDOT is holding a series of public meetings and looking for input about priorities for transportation projects both local and statewide. Please attend one of the meetings listed below and record your input about your transportation needs and capital priorities.

CIP Public Meeting Schedule

    • BOSTON – Tuesday, May 21st at 6:30 p.m., Trans. Building, 10 Park Plaza, Board Room
    • DANVERS – Tuesday, May 21st at 6:00 p.m., Danvers Senior Center, 25 Stone St.
    • FALMOUTH – Wednesday, May 22nd at 6:30 p.m., Falmouth Library, 300 Main St.
    • BRAINTREE – Thursday, May 23rd at 6:30 p.m., Thayer Public Library, 798 Washington St.
    • FALL RIVER – Thursday, May 23rd at 6:30 p.m., Fall River Library, 104 North Main St.
    • PITTSFIELD – Tuesday, May 28th at 6:00 p.m., Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, 1 Fenn St, #201
    • NATICK – Wednesday, May 29th at 6:30 p.m., Natick Town Hall, 13 East Central St.
    • LOWELL – Thursday, May 30th at 6:30 p.m., Pollard Library, 401 Merrimack St.
    • LEOMINSTER – Monday, June 3rd at 6:30 p.m., Leominster City Hall (Auditorium), 25 West St.
    • ROXBURY – Tuesday, June 4th at 6:30 p.m., Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington St.
    • WORCESTER – Wednesday, June 5th at 6:30 p.m., Worcester City Hall (South Meeting Room), 455 Main St.
    • SPRINGFIELD – Thursday, June 6th at 6:00 p.m., Springfield Library (Mason Square Branch), 765 State St.

If you are unable to attend a meeting, you will be able to post ideas on the CIP website, www.mass.gov/cip or email comments to masscip@state.ma.us