RPC is revamping the regional transportation plan.
The plan serves as the master guidance document for the Metropolitan Planning Organization's guidance of a number of federal transportation funds and Berkshire Regional Planning Commission's work.
BRPC has found that towns tend to act conservatively with Chapter 90 funds for road work because of uncertainty around the program.
Senior Transportation Planner Eammon Coughlin, of Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, had taken on a study on the use of Chapter 90 in the Berkshires and found that there is at least a year delay between when the state funds are allocated to the towns and when they are actually spent.
Thomas Matuszko of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission reviewed six possible planning projects the town can use grant funds to commission BRPC to execute and the board agreed to prioritize reorganizing zoning in the southern Route 8 corridor.
After 21 years with the organization, Thomas Matuszko is poised to become the next executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.
The commission chose Matuszko out of three finalists Thursday evening. The executive committee will now negotiate terms for employment with who could become just the organization's third executive director since the commission was formed in 1967.
A search committee conducted its interviews for the three finalists for the position on Thursday and Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will pick Nathaniel Karns' successor next week. Karns is retiring from the job after 23 years. He was just the second executive director since the commission was formed in 1967.
One of the first things the governor did when taking office in 2014 was released an additional $100 million in money for cities and towns to repair the roads.
But towns in the Berkshires didn't use it that spring. In fact, in total spending on Chapter 90 allocations dropped to the lowest spending level in the last five years. Baker's announcement had come halfway through the fiscal year and was hailed by local officials. The program is considered one of the most important for a city or town.
The Selectmen and some members of the Planning Board met with Thomas Matuszko of Berkshire Regional Planning Commission last Tuesday to settle a misunderstanding about a state housing grant BRPC was administering on behalf of the town that town leaders did not agree with.
It would be difficult for a Berkshire town to recruit a large biotech company on its own.
1Berkshire President Jonathan Butler knows that because he was a town administration. Now his focus is on countywide efforts to build the Berkshire economy by heading the region's designated economic development agency and tourism council. What he would suggest to towns is to get all of the little things in place to seize an opportunity should it arise.
The county's rate of serious traffic accidents in the Berkshires is declining faster than the state average.
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Senior Transportation Planner Eammon Coughlin reported Tuesday projections that show a continual decline in the number of vehicle fatalities and serious injuries. Based on five-year rolling averages calculated each year, there has been a 17.27 percent decline in fatalities and a 15.57 percent decline in serious injuries since 2011.
BRPC's search for a new director will begin in earnest next month.
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Nathaniel Karns is planning to retire in early 2018. A search committee has been formed to find who will become the agency's third executive director. Karns said he wants to retire no earlier than January 1 and no later than September 1, 2018, but is "pretty flexible" with what that date will be.
BRPC supports the state's push to overhaul land use regulations. But, the specifics in the bills from the House and Senate have raised some concern.
For months, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission's regional issues committee has been pouring over the details of the massive omnibus bills. Two bills are going through the legislative process now - one from the House and one from the Senate - with similar changes to zoning and other land use regulations.
Local organizations have great long-term plans for the future of Berkshire County. But, state Sen. Adam Hinds said the state needs to get the "fundamentals right" before that can take hold.
Hinds spoke with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission on Thursday and reviewed the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. He said 1Berkshire also has a similar blueprint with how to revitalize the Berkshire economy. But, both plans are still two or more years away, he said.
Two years ago, BRPC undertook a survey of the available properties that are zoned for industrial usage, near main roads, and in proximity (not necessarily served by) to utilities. Only 41 of those properties have more than three acres of undeveloped, buildable land.
In a small town like New Marlborough it can be financially difficult to bring in specialized expertise and attorneys for land use questions.
Now the Planning Board there is hoping to craft a right to farm bylaw to protect its farmers. Through state funding, the town can now lean on the expertise of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. New Marlborough is one of 25 towns in the Berkshires to receive help with planning issues through the District Local Technical Assistance program.
BRPC Executive Director Nathaniel Karns knows a thing or two about planning.
He's been in the business for 40 years with most recently a 23-year stint as the executive director of Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.
The project to re-do the intersections around Berkshire Medical Center has been pushed back yet again, as the design has not progressed enough.
The $7.1 million project for the Berkshire Medical Center area has been ranked as a top priority by Berkshire Regional Planning Commission but the design is too far behind to go to bid in 2018. The project has been 11 years in the making, after a 2006 circulation study identified it as a focus for improving traffic in downtown Pittsfield.
The Selectmen have seen a draft of a Community Development Strategy Plan that is needed for the town to participate in the state's Housing Rehab Program.
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission representative Patricia Mullins asked the board on Tuesday to review a draft copy of the plan that was created by a committee of residents. The plan outlines community goals and strategies.
BRPC finally got its local assistance funding and more than 25 towns have requested help.
The funding for District Local Technical Local Assistance program was questionable over the last few months as the state pondered budget cuts to address shortages of revenue. The state provides $2.8 million to regional planning committees to help towns with an array of planning projects.
BRPC is looking to "rapidly expand" a shared economic planner job.
Four towns, Hinsdale, Great Barrington, Clarksburg, and Lanesborough, had signed onto a project to bring on a full-time economic development specialist. William Compton was hired for the position and now splits his time working with the various communities.
The Selectmen have agreed to apply for a District Local Technical Assistance through the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission to identify processes and possible funding to remove dilapidated homes.
Town Administrator Mark Webber recommended to the board last week that they team up with Hinsdale and through BRPC apply for a grant that will provide guidance to remove blight in the community.
BRPC Executive Director Nathaniel Karns wants to help move the Eagle Mill redevelopment along.
But, he isn't sure if he'll have the funds to do it. Last year, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission began the process of crafting a 40R zoning overlay district. It is a series of regulations aimed to encourage dense residential and mixed-use zoning districts.
Because of all of the work done already to bring the Berkshire Scenic Railway to Hoosac Street in Adams, BRPC says only one environmental review is needed.
The Berkshire Scenic Railway is already operating on tracks between Renfrew Street and North Adams and the plans have been to continue that all the way to Hoosac Street, less than a mile away. But, the initial round of funding didn't support building out the new tracks to get there.
"As a region that has struggled economically for forty-five years, and is increasingly reliant on entrepreneurs and sole-proprietors, who are often home-based and can be located anywhere, having full, future proof broadband available across the region is critical to our economic rebuilding and sustainability," the letter states.