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Public invited to help develop city's new open space plan

Date: 6/22/2010

June 23, 2010.

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- City officials and members of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) are seeking input from the public regarding their views on the future use of open space.

The Westfield Open Space Committee is hosting a public comment session in conjunction with PVPC on June 24. Participants' input will help to formulate the city's five-year Open Space Recreation Plan courtesy of PVPC and a District Local Technical Assistant Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

"The city determines their goals and priorities for development, [which] includes upgrading to existing playgrounds, acquisition of open space and preservation of farmland," Larry Smith, director of planning, and chair of the Open Space Committee, explained.

Jayne Bernhard-Armington, housing and land use specialist at PVPC, explained the final plan would be between 30 and 200 pages and include topographical, zoning and watershed maps, trends and land use data from the past 10 years and target areas for development or conservation.

Smith noted some parks are already planning upgrades such as those necessary for Chapman Playground on St. Paul Street.

The city secured a $90,000 grant last month from the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to draft plans for the playground's rehabilitation. The upgrades to Chapman Playground are projected to total approximately $700,000, Smith added.

"Essentially [the Open Space and Recreation Plan] is a wish list and you try to accomplish as much as you can," he said. "Millions of dollars needed [to complete everything on the wish list], which is why you have to prioritize. It's very frustrating because there's so much to be done and not enough funds to do it."

Bernhard-Armington encouraged Westfield residents to participate in the visioning session so they may weigh in on their priorities. The session will take place on June 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. at North Middle School, 350 Southampton Rd.