Berkshire County Towns Receive Community Planning Grants

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BARNSTABLE, Mass. — The Baker-Polito Administration awarded Egremont, Lenox, and Lee Community Planning Grants to assist in various planning projects.
On Wednesday, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, Undersecretary of Community Development Ashley Stolba, Assistant Secretary for Communities and Programs Juan Vega, and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Community Services Division Director Louis Martin were joined by state and local officials in Barnstable to celebrate the Community Planning Grant Program awards, which include $2,386,800 to 40 projects. 
"Our administration is proud to award over $2.3 million to help cities and towns undertake a variety of planning projects for green spaces, infrastructure, multi-modal transportation, housing and opportunities to promote private investment," said Governor Charlie Baker. "These projects are dedicated to increasing housing development across the state, including updating zoning to meet the new MBTA Communities zoning requirements and I look forward to seeing this future progress.
Egremont received a $54,000 grant to delineate and map new zones or overlay districts, draft new or update existing zoning bylaws, and gain public support/acceptance of same, in harmony with the Comprehensive Plan.
Lee received a $50,000 grant to update its 2000 Master Plan and Open Space and Recreation Plan to incorporate current and future housing needs of residents, invite public engagement, and plan for future development.
The town of Lenox received a $22,000 grant to support ongoing design and engineering work for sewer expansion in North Lenox to serve a 65-unit mixed-income rental housing project, developable land zoned for mixed-use, commercial or multifamily development, existing businesses, and at least 100 homes which are currently served by dated septic systems. This design and engineering work will consider feasibility, alternatives, partial design, and ID-ready documents.
"Congratulations to all of today's awardees who are pursuing long-term planning for community success with the help of a Community Planning grant," said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. "Here in Barnstable, a $75,000 award will help the town make informed decisions around zoning, development, and services to better support older adults who want to age in community."
"Over the past two years we have transformed the way the Commonwealth delivers economic development funding through the Community One-Stop for Growth model, and we are proud to see 40 communities utilize this resource to take on a diverse array of planning projects," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. "Across the state, Community Planning grants will help municipalities address underutilized properties, update zoning, and plan for housing to meet community needs."
The Community Planning Grant Program provides funding for technical assistance for community planning projects. This competitive grant program awards funds based on the community planning or zoning project's nexus with housing, transportation, infrastructure, economic development, and community development including funding for MBTA Communities seeking compliance with draft guidelines for M.G.L. Chapter 40A, Section 3A. Since creating the program last year, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded $3,386,800 to 56 projects. 
The program is part of Community One Stop for Growth, a single application portal that provides a streamlined, collaborative review process of 12 state grant programs that fund economic development projects related to community capacity building, planning and zoning, site preparation, building construction, and infrastructure. Altogether, this round of the One Stop is awarding more than $143 million in grant awards to support 337 local economic development projects in 169 communities. The full list of grants can be found here.
Through this round of the One Stop, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development received 523 applications from 207 communities representing every region of the Commonwealth. Of the 337 applications awarded, 31 percent are located in a rural or small town; 32 percent are located in a Gateway City; and 43 percent are located in a Housing Choice Community. This investment is expected to directly support the creation of 6,950 new housing units across the Commonwealth, including 5,068 new market-rate units and 1,882 new affordable units.

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Ventfort Hall Announce New Executive Director

LENOX, Mass. — Wendy Healey has joined Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox as Executive Director. 
She was previously a management consultant and entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in banking, financial technology, and marketing.
Healey served on the WAM board of directors since 2018, most recently as the board President, and chairs its Governance Committee. She is a founding member of the Inclusive Economic Innovation Group, a think tank that seeks equitable solutions to systemic economic racism, and served on the board of directors of BerkShares, the local currency of the Berkshires. She has been involved with local chambers of commerce her entire career, and served as the first woman president of the Avon, CT Chamber of Commerce.
She has a Master's Degree in Business Administration from the University of Connecticut where she also earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. She lives in an 1832 Greek Revival home on an old dairy farm in Colebrook, Conn. where she spends her free time with her partner Scott, three dogs, and renovating a "fixer-upper" cottage nearby. 
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