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Vision Task Force prepares findings for Wilbraham

Date: 8/1/2013

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM – With its research now completed, the Vision Task Force is preparing to present its findings to the town.

Planning Board chair Richard Butler and Chuck Phillips, chair of the task force, said at a joint meeting on July 17 that three members of the board had already seen a presentation of the statistics and information generated by the task force’s research on where residents see the town in the future and what its focuses should be.

“What our intention is in this meeting is to inform everybody what the town said,” he said. “As one of the slides says, ‘This is by the community, for the community.”’

The information through which the task force generated the presentation was gathered through surveys, public comment at posted meetings and through events such as Imagine Wilbraham Day, which took place Dec. 8, 2012.

Butler called the level of information “impressive” and Phillips said it was the task force’s intention to share the finalized data with the community in a presentation in September.

“Our plan at this point is to have a modified version of the PowerPoint you saw available to the public in September,” he said. “The dates we’re tentatively looking at are Sept. 17, a Tuesday at 7 p.m. meeting, and Sept. 21, which is a Saturday, at 10 a.m. That would be at the high school auditorium.”

Phillips explained that the dates were not set in stone because the task force has been unable to reach staff at the high school to confirm the auditorium’s availability.

He went on to say that he expected the presentation to take approximately one hour with an opportunity for residents to weigh in afterward.

“We assume that presentation time will be approximately 50 minutes. People at our earlier presentation asked quite a few questions and that made that presentation about 65 minutes,” he said. “We’re assuming that people will wait with their questions until the end during this presentation, so we’re hoping to have about 60 minutes of presentation, followed by a period of discussion.”

Butler agreed that the Planning Board would introduce the task force and give an explanation of their charge prior to the presentation at Phillips’ request, but stressed that the credit for it should belong to those who collected the data.

“We created the task force and I think it’s appropriate that we introduce it in context, but the real show is you guys,” he said.

In addition to informing the public, Phillips said he hoped the presentation would “stimulate [residents’] thoughts on the future and get them to think about what would be something good in Wilbraham.”

Phillips added that in addition to the media, the task force intended to spread the word through informational cards its members would distribute at the town picnic scheduled for Aug. 18 as part of the town’s 250th anniversary celebration, as well as concerts at Fountain Park, and with lawn signs strategically placed at key intersections in town.

Phillips also said the task force planned to set up meetings with members of the town’s departments. Members of the Planning Board and the Vision Task Force both agreed that with the information, the town’s departments and various boards should work together to identify some projects or goals it considered attainable.

Planning Board member David Sanders said that while the town should “pick the low-hanging fruit,” it should make sure that it chose projects that were not just easy to accomplish, but would open doors for future undertakings.