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Berkshire Regional Planning Commission representative Patricia Mullins sits in front of Community Development Strategy Plan Commission members Eileen Quinn, Edmund St. John IV and Peter Traub.

Cheshire Sees Draft Community Development Strategy Plan

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — 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.
 
"They tried to sort of summarize with the other planning that has taken place, the past plan," she said. "They pointed out work the town would like to do going forwards and after naming those goals, prioritized them in a community development point of view."
 
Late last year, the board agreed to apply to the state Department of Housing and Community Development for grants that will allow residents to make improvements to their homes. 
 
The plan needs to be part of the application due March 10. 
 
Mullins said the process needs to show that the town has thought through goals and strategies and has allowed public input. She said this is why the commissioners who were chosen to create the plan also serve on the Master Plan Committee.
 
"They ask the communities to do one of these to demonstrate that there has been thought put into the town's development goals and priorities and that there has been public input," she said. "They want to make sure it hasn't just been this thing that town leaders made up themselves." 
 
She added by having a three-member committee of Master Plan Committee members, it ensures the plan will be consistent with the master plan 
 
Mullins said the policy can also be part of future grant applications.
 
"In the future, there may be a lot of activities that the town can do with CDBG and we want to make sure you are well covered in this document and it will support those next priorities," she said. 
 
She said the plan opens up with an overview of the town and some of the planning initiatives the town is currently undergoing, such as the Master Plan, Water System Master Plan and the Cheshire Community Association.
 
The document then lists some community development goals the working group had come up with. 
 
First off was to expand on housing opportunities with a stress on senior and more affordable housing. 
 
This goal included the rehabilitation of existing properties and using grant funds to achieve this.
 
Another goal listed in the document is to support the redevelopment of public works projects and focus on reinvigorating the downtown area.
 
That includes attracting new business, fostering new businesses and making the downtown a more comfortable space.
 
The third major goal in the document is to implement quality-of-life improvements, to promote and enhance cultural and recreation attractions and to leverage existing town assets.
 
Mullins said this could be done by increasing signage, capitalizing on historic and recreational assets and possibly create a town beach.
 
The document then prioritizes the goals and lists strategies to complete them with CDBG and non-CDBG funds over the next one to five years.
 
The Selectmen agreed to read over the plan and make a ruling on it next week.
 
In other business, the board reported it had interviewed three applicants for Department of Public Works director and will make a decision once reference checks are conducted.
 
The Selectmen also approved the Age-Friendly Community Resolution after town counsel explained the resolution would not bind the town to anything. 

Tags: BRPC,   CDBG,   community development,   municipal planning,   

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