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Posted on: January 19, 2023

Long Range Plan Newsletter - January 2023

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Town of Longmeadow Letterhead

Longmeadow Long Range Plan Newsletter - January 2023


Dear Longmeadow Residents and Stakeholders,

Welcome to the first edition of the Long Range Plan newsletter. This newsletter will be your source to recap the Long Range Plan Steering Committee (LRPSC) meetings, stay up-to-date on any upcoming events, and receive links to surveys and media. You can expect to receive these reports on a bi-monthly basis (following the LRPSC meeting schedule, below), and occasionally more frequently to remind you of any upcoming events or other opportunities to get involved.


I hope you will share this newsletter widely and encourage your community connections to subscribe as well. Thank you for your interest – and if you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact me at planningdept@longmeadow.org or by calling 413-565-4110.

Sincerely,

Corrin Meise-Munns

Assistant Town Manager & Director of Planning and Community Development


Why are We Undertaking an Update of Our Long Range Plan?

Long range plans, also called master plans or comprehensive plans, shape how a community grows over 10 to 20 years, and set priorities for development and land use, municipal services, public health, education, housing, and other quality of life issues. In Massachusetts, Massachusetts General Law (MGL) Chapter 41, section 81D requires that each community establish and maintain a master plan. Ideally, master plans inform departmental capital plans and annual budgets, guide municipal infrastructure investments and target both geo-spatial and programmatic areas for improvements in Town, and provide policy-level guidance for voting at Town Meetings. In short – long range plans can and should be vital documents that help inform cohesive municipal and voter decision making. 


Long range plans are generated with robust public and stakeholder input, and because the economic, cultural, and environmental landscape is always shifting, these plans have shelf-lives of just a decade or two. Longmeadow’s original Long Range Plan dates from 2004, and at this point no longer functions as a serviceable guiding document for municipal operations. 

As succinctly described in the Longmeadow Planning Board’s Letter to the Editor in the November 24 issue of The Reminder, Longmeadow is increasingly in a state of climatic and demographic flux. The Long Range Plan update is a high priority project for both residents and Town staff, who agree that the Town needs to take a comprehensive approach to planning for climate change and social equity. 

At Special Fall Town Meeting on November 2, 2021, voters in Longmeadow approved a warrant article directing the Town to develop and implement a climate action and resilience plan, and to “consider climate change in all appropriate municipal decisions and planning processes.” In January 2022, Department Heads and other key municipal staff, along with representation from the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board, participated in a “Community Resilience Building Workshop.” One of the top three priority strategies that emerged from the workshop was to update the Town’s Long Range Plan with a climate resilience lens. 


Equitable access to levels of service, quality of life, and resources has also been an increasing public priority. On July 6, 2020, the Longmeadow Select Board adopted a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. In the spring of 2021, the Longmeadow Coalition for Racial Justice Task Force to the Select Board presented recommendations to the Select Board and Town Manager to address systemic racism in municipal operations and public life. The Longmeadow Anti-Racism Coalition formed in 2019 and has also been advocating to the Select Board and to the public to increase inclusion and diversity in Town.


In 2022, the Town applied to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Action Grant program to update our Long Range Plan and develop a document that functions not only as a traditional master plan, but also as a climate action and resilience plan with a commitment to equitable service and social opportunity. Our grant request was awarded in full in the amount of $235,555 to fund the project, which will be supplemented by municipal staff labor match valued at $98,000–making the project’s total value $333,555. This project will span two fiscal years with an approximate completion date of May 2024.


Long Range Plan Consultants

We are happy to have hired a team of long range planning consultants led by Barrett Planning Group, a Massachusetts-based community planning firm. Judi Barrett of Barrett Planning Group has over three decades of leading high quality community planning projects that prioritize community engagement and involvement, including many recently in the Pioneer Valley such as that of East Longmeadow (2020) and Blandford (2020). Barrett Planning Group is partnering with BETA Group and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the full consultant team will be working with the LRPSC and the Planning and Community Development Department to facilitate Longmeadow’s Long Range Plan update.


LHS students at the Climate Summit

Our LHS cohort attended the Western Mass Youth Climate Summit in October.

Long Range Plan Scope, Timeline, and Opportunities to Get Involved

The Long Range Plan update officially kicked off in September 2022 and will wrap up in June 2024. Over the course of that time, we will be working with Barrett Planning Group’s team to research and draft the plan’s chapters, in addition to conducting robust community engagement through a myriad of activities to provide feedback regarding current levels of service, help prioritize new strategies, and envision the resilient and equitable Longmeadow of the future. Stay tuned here on our project page for more detailed timelines and information.


Additionally, we have several decentralized community engagement efforts happening in tandem to the traditional master planning efforts. Our community-wide digital storytelling initiative, Community Stories on Climate Change, features Longmeadow residents sharing their perspectives on climate despair, resilience, and action. Arts Integration Studio, led by Priscilla Kane Hellweg and supported by Bay Path University, will curate these personal narratives, culminating in a public art exhibit that will bring to life the voice of the community. WWLP highlighted the project in a recent article. This strategy is funded through the 2023 fiscal year, and will wrap up in June 2023.


Finally, we are implementing age-specific engagement campaigns. For youth, Mass Audubon is leading a climate change and civics action curriculum in the public high school and middle schools. This programming is the first of its kind and is a pilot project for Mass Audubon, who is developing a climate-oriented professional development training for teachers of any subject who wish to support active learning around the subject in their classrooms. Additionally, Mass Audubon is developing a “Climate Democracy'' curriculum to support students who wish to pursue climate related civic action projects, and is also providing technical assistance to a cohort of Longmeadow High School students pursuing a local climate project this academic year. The cohort of nine LHS students attended the 2023 Western Mass Youth Climate Summit this past fall with 55 of their peers from surrounding public school districts and developed their own youth-led plan to remove single-use plastic cutlery from the high school cafeteria. Mass Audubon will be providing technical assistance in support of their project through June 2023.


For elders, we will host a series of focus groups and surveys to understand senior citizens’ unique needs and perspectives on life in Longmeadow. This targeted program will qualify the town for the AARP Age Friendly designation.


Western Mass Youth Climate Summit

55 students from local public school districts attended the Western Mass Youth Climate Summit


Introducing the Long Range Plan Steering Committee

In the fall of 2022, the Longmeadow Planning Board established the LRPSC’s charge and reached out to several pre-identified boards and committees to ask for delegates to serve on the LRPSC. Additionally, the Town Manager’s Office put out a call for residents not otherwise affiliated with a board or committee to apply for six at-large seats on the LRPSC. Two of these seats are dedicated to Senior Community Liaisons (residents aged 64 or older who make use of the Adult Center’s services); two are dedicated to Youth Community Liaisons (students at Longmeadow High School); and two are traditional at-large seats open to any residents in town, regardless of age. I am happy to report that the LRPSC has been populated with the following members:


Shelley Barron - At-Large Representative

Ed Carroll - At-Large Representative

Terry Weiner - Senior Community Liaison

Corey Odentz - Senior Community Liaison

Joy Pan - Youth Community Liaison

Shyla Ruiz Kachwaha- Youth Community Liaison

Anastasios Angelides - Board of Health delegate

Stephan Platzer - Council on Aging delegate

Patrick Carnahan - Conservation Commission delegate

Minoo Tehrani - Energy and Sustainability delegate

Tom King - Historical Commission delegate

Andrew Berke - Park and Recreation Commission delegate

Cheryl Thibodeau- Planning Board delegate

Bruce Colton - Planning Board delegate

Nicole Choiniere - School Committee delegate

Dan Zwirko - Select Board delegate

Dave Marinelli - Tree Committee delegate


Note that the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Housing Authority have all been invited to name delegates as well and we hope their positions will be filled as soon as possible. 


LRPSC Meeting Schedule

For as long as the Commonwealth allows arrangements for remote participation, the LRPSC will have hybrid meetings with both virtual (Zoom) and in-person options for attendance. These meetings will be conducted in accordance with Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, and the public is invited to attend to observe and participate during the Public Comment section of the agenda. The agendas for each meeting, containing the physical meeting location and Zoom link, will be posted at least 48 hours prior to the meeting on the Town’s Agenda Calendar.


Barring any rescheduling, the meetings of the LRPSC will be held on bi-monthly Mondays at 7pm:

  • January 23, 2023
  • March 27, 2023
  • May 22, 2023
  • July 24, 2023
  • September 25, 2023
  • November 27, 2023
  • January 22, 2024
  • March 25, 2024
  • May 13, 2024

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