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Planning Steering Committee submits Visioning Plan

Date: 2/13/2012

Feb. 13, 2012

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — The town of Wilbraham is moving forward with the first part of the process of developing a new master plan.

The Planning Steering Committee submitted a visioning document to the Planning Board, which was accepted on Jan. 25.

The purpose of the visioning document is to outline the process of determining the direction in which residents and businesses believe the town should be headed.

"This is the first step in the creation of our master plan," Chuck Phillips, chair of the Visioning Task Force, said. "This process will bring the focus of the town into view so we can assess where the plan needs to jump off from."

Phillips explained that once the Visioning Task Force identifies the town's goals, the formulation of a master plan could begin. Most likely, he said, the Planning Board would appoint a sub-committee for that purpose.

He also stressed the importance of the town having a long-term vision.

"People believe that town government has mechanisms in place through which it can adapt to changing needs," Phillips said. "Without an overall vision, it's difficult to know if those potential changes fit into where the town is headed. Sometimes you don't know if something that seems good in the short term will be as good for the town long-term. If you have a broad vision, then you can have a better understanding of that."

The 16-page document, entitled "Reimagining Wilbraham, "outlines seven issues that must be addressed for the visioning process to be completed — designing the process; assembling the Wilbraham Vision Task Force; meeting with town staff and committees; creating a community inventory database; public outreach and community engagement; community forum issues and opportunities; and vision and goal formulation.

Phillips said the next remaining step is to begin meetings with town employees and later residents.

We want to create a high level of enthusiasm for this process," he said. "We want to see and hear people's ideas on the path their town is on so that the people know that the town will consider their thoughts and opinions on its direction moving forward."

The document includes a projected schedule for the visioning process with the completion of a final report to the Planning Board projected for December.

"It's an aggressive timeline, but I think it's reasonable," he said.

The Visioning Task Force is a group made up entirely of volunteers and more are needed. Those interested in donating their time should contact Phillips at 596-4456 or

Copies of the visioning document are available on the town website at

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