The Livable Communities Workshop series is a joint project of MAPC and the Boston MPO. The goal of the program is to educate local stakeholders on topics related to livability, complete streets, and smart growth. Each workshop is tailored to the needs of the community, and the range of topics has included town center revitalization, placemaking, sprawl repair, Bike/Ped committee strategic planning, and handicap accessibility. The program begins with a site visit between MAPC and/or CTPS staff and the local point person, often the municipal planner, to identify the local needs and goals for the workshop. Stakeholders involved in the workshop may include municipal staff, selectmen, members of town committees (such as Planning Board or Bike/Ped Committee), advocates, and business owners. The workshop itself consists of a presentation by MAPC/CTPS staff that provides a background on relevant concepts and outlines potential strategies for the municipality to address the local needs that they identified. Ample time is provided for discussion, and a walk-through of the area of focus is sometimes included as well. A final memo captures the content of the presentation and discussion, and recommends next steps for the municipality to take.
2013 Livable Community Workshops:
Norwell Town Center Revitalization:
Norwell hopes to attract more people and new businesses to its Town Center. MAPC and the town planner conducted a walk-through of the downtown area. Using the findings, MAPC presented a Livable Communities workshop to the planning board, the chair and vice-chair of the board of selectmen, the town manager and the director of public works. The presentation included recommendations on transportation (improving sidewalks, adding bike lanes, calming the main intersection, connecting to nearby parks and trails); parking (no additional parking needed, strategies to improve utilization of existing off-street supply); and placemaking (streetscape, programming, special events).
Vinnin Square Sprawl Repair:
Vinnin Square straddles the North Shore towns of Swampscott, Marblehead and Salem. The area is characterized by auto-oriented, strip mall and big-box development, with heavy traffic exacerbated by the tendency for visitors to drive between nearby destinations, even if they are adjoining or simply across the street. Marblehead has created a smart growth zoning overlay district for its portion of Vinnin Square. The workshop included representatives from Swampscott and Marblehead, and focused on improving conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders. In particular, partnerships with businesses and landowners were recommended to improve pedestrian access to businesses from the street, nearby housing developments, and neighboring businesses. Short- and long-term strategies were proposed for reutilizing excess parking capacity, and for improving street operations.
Melrose Bike/Ped Committee:
Melrose recently formed a Bicycle Pedestrian Committee, that is engaged in a strategic planning process to help decide how to focus its efforts for maximum impact. MAPC and CTPS worked with the Melrose Mass In Motion coordinator to develop a workshop that would educate the committee on how to be engaged in the project development process. MAPC and CTPS helped the committee compare the value of developing a strategy for creating a bike network plan, or advocating for the adoption of a Complete Streets Policy.