MAPC’s October 29 Fall Council Meeting was teeming with optimism as attendees were invited to celebrate the agency’s successes and look positively toward the future of planning in the Greater Boston region.
MAPC President Lynn Duncan opened the meeting at The University of Massachusetts Boston Campus Center Ballroom by inviting the University Chancellor, Dr. J Keith Motley, to the podium for some welcoming remarks. Motley said he was proud of the relationship UMass Boston has fostered with MAPC, acknowledging that planning is an everyday battle to ensure that our communities are vibrant and thriving, and asked for the Council to continue partnering with UMass Boston and MAPC staff in achieving planning excellence.
This is why, Motley said, he is so excited about the new Urban Planning program at UMass Boston, which is also the newest urban planning program in the nation. The director of the program, Dr. Kenneth Reardon, spoke to the audience about his desire to tap into MAPC as a resource.
“In the coming decades, there will be a huge demand for well-trained, committed planners,” he said. “MAPC can be an invaluable partner in training this next generation.”
With concentrations in transportation alternatives, public health, and housing, the program aligns closely with MAPC’s mission.
Eric Bourassa, MAPC Transportation Director and Vice Chair of the Boston Region MPO, moderated the MPO election, in which four unopposed members were elected. See the results at http://www.ctps.org/mpo_election_2015. The MPO is a federally recognized organization that determines how to spend federal transportation dollars. As it has grown larger, the MPO has also grown more transparent and open as every MAPC municipality is now represented, according to Bourassa.
The Report of the Treasurer, Taber Keally, reported that MAPC’s finances are in excellent condition, ending the fiscal year with a strong surplus. Although the agency recently incurred two large expenses –the third floor office renovations and new accounting software — these costs will be spread over several years and position the agency to work more efficiently moving forward. These updates were necessary, said Keally, as MAPC has become a “victim of our own success” by growing much more quickly than anticipated.
MAPC Executive Director Marc Draisen took the stage next, focusing his address primarily on MAPC’s legislative work.
“The House and Senate are increasingly interested in what we have to say,” he said, explaining that MAPC has had tremendous success recently with addressing outdated zoning laws, transportation issues, energy, and housing affordability at the state level.
MAPC’s Director of Data Services Tim Reardon presented the Robert Davidson Staff Achievement Award to Susan Brunton, a GIS analyst and invaluable member of the data services team. Reardon spoke of his admiration for Brunton’s quiet nature and breadth of expertise, noting that she is always more than capable and more than willing to help whenever it is needed.
Next, the Theodore Mann Award for Regional Leadership was given to Lt. Scott Sencabaugh of the Wilmington Police Department for his tireless work on school and youth safety. Mann, who was the longest-serving mayor of Newton, always considered his responsibility to Newton’s children and placed them at the forefront of his priorities, his son told the audience. A strong regionalist, Mann recognized the perpetuation of violence in schools is not contained by municipal boundaries and must be addressed collaboratively. When Sencabaugh took the podium, his dedication and embodiment of Mann’s ideals were evident.
“It’s hard work, but there’s nothing as rewarding as a team than to leave people better than you found them … that’s what I try to do every day,” he said.
Six members of MAPC’s staff presented “lightning presentations,” providing attendees with a quick snapshot into some of the most interesting and innovative work with which MAPC is engaged. Presentations included Connecting Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Downtown Framingham by Renato Castelo; Reimagining Hall’s Corner: Economic Development in Duxbury by Amanda Chisholm; Housing, Jobs, and Health: Planning for Equity and Quality of Life in Chelsea by Jenn Erickson; When to Switch off: Lowering Municipal Energy Rates by Patrick Roche; Resilient Quincy: Planning and Preparing for Climate Change by Heidi Stucker; Regional Ballot Initiatives: Raising Funds for Local and Regional Transportation Projects by Lizzi Weyant.
Click here to find all of the lightning presentations!