Northborough’s Master Plan Steering Committee gives year-end updates

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Northborough – The Northborough Master Plan Steering Committee met with selectmen at their Dec. 17 meeting to discuss the plan and provide an up-to-date overview.

Northborough is now in the process of updating the town-wide Master Plan. Three main issues have been identified that the public is most concerned with: the vibrancy of the downtown area, the walkability and connectivity of the town, and housing (particularly for seniors.)

The Steering Committee was represented by its chair, Fran Bakstran, and vice chair, Rick Leif. Bakstran began by describing the makeup of the 15-member committee who were appointed by selectmen or their respective committees.

“It’s a great group and there are so many diverse opinions and thoughts and a lot of cross dialogues and discussions which make this a vibrant group,” Bakstran remarked.

In September of 2017, an RFP was advertised seeking applications from consultants. VHP Consultants were selected. The committee has met six times and all meetings are open to the public. Two public forums have also been held. More are expected.

Two surveys were developed in conjunction with the two public forums which were held last June and this past October, with more than 100 people in attendance. Both surveys had tremendous response.

“As we met initially with the consultants, it became apparent that we wanted this to be the plan of Northborough… We wanted the plan to be driven by the town and have them help us implement it, and they’ve been very good that way,” noted Leif.

In a memo provided to selectmen, Bakstran and Leif shared the plan’s Vision Statement and goals relevant to Land Use; Housing, Economic Development; Natural, Cultural and Historic Resources; Open Space and Recreation; Public Facilities and Services; and Transportation.

“What we are working on now is to basically develop recommendations or action steps as to how we go about doing some of these things… The plan itself isn’t going to come up with a road map to do all this, it’s just going to outline what the next steps ought to be,” Leif said.

“We have our goals, now the action steps and recommendation to achieve those goals are more specific. The nuts and bolts as to how you get to those actions are down the road at a town staff level,” Bakstran interjected.

“As the town continues to grow and there’s a diverse group of people that comes into town, has there been any effort by the committee to reach out to people of different ethnic backgrounds to get their feedback?” inquired Selectman Tim Kaelin.

Leif replied that here had been a good cross-section of the town that has participated in the public forums.

The next meeting of the Steering Committee will take place Thursday, Jan. 3 (location TBD) and will be open to the public.

For more information, visit  http://northboromp.com.