|By Katelyn Gendron|
Reminder Assistant Editor
SOUTHWICK The Open Space Committee in conjunction with the Conservation Commission will be "blanketing the town green" with surveys throughout February and March, according to town officials.
The objective of the green-colored 15-question Open Space Planning and Recreation survey is twofold, John Stadnicki, chair of the Open Space Committee, said: to discover the community's wants and needs for the preservation of open space and to remain eligible for urban self-help grants from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA). Surveys must be conducted every five years to maintain eligibility and its findings will also prioritize the town's open space preservation concentrations for those years, he added.
Stadnicki explained that over the past several years data from a previous survey conducted in late 2001, early 2002 has allowed the town to obtain several hundred thousand dollars in urban self-help grants for the development of the Sofinowski Preserve and the Loupinski Wildlife Management Area.
The commission has recently applied for another urban self-help grant for the development of Lakefront Park -- land behind Cove Banquet Facility on Point Grove Road. Stadnicki explained that if approved, the $500,000 in grant funding would be used for the acquisition of the privately owned property, along with an additional $125,000 in Community Preservation Act funding for the development of the land as a recreation site including a bandshell, picnic tables, etc.
Dennis Clark, coordinator of the Conservation Commission, said grant funding could not be achieved without the endorsement and aid of Southwick citizens.
"[It's] their tax dollars and their community. Sometimes the loudest people are not necessarily the majority and this way [through surveys] we get a well-rounded opinion," he said. "The Community Preservation Committee wants to endorse town projects that people want."
Clark explained that a poor turnout of responses from the previous survey has prompted city officials to be more proactive in its promoting. He added that he is hoping for thousands of responses as opposed to the approximately 300 received in 2002.
The survey questions include asking each resident about their favorite private recreation sites, which sites they believe require improvement and how satisfied each resident is with adult, child and community recreation sites.
Surveys can be obtained at the Senior Center or Public Library next month and can be delivered or mailed to the Conservation Commission's Office at Town Hall, 454 College Highway. Surveys can also be obtained online via the town's Web site, www.southwickma.org.
For more information or to have a survey mailed to your residence, call the Conservation Commission Office at 569-6907.