City residents sought for Master Plan panel

WESTFIELD — Mayor Donald F. Humason announced last week that the city is seeking residents who may be interested in helping to draft Westfield’s first Master Plan in decades.

Humason said that he is taking letters of interest for Westfield residents to join the Master Plan Committee by Monday, Nov. 1. The size of the committee has not been decided, but he said he wants it to be around 13 to 15 people.

The idea of a Master Plan is to act as a guiding document for the future development of a city. They are often used by planning departments and planning boards as guides for crafting land use bylaws or funding infrastructure improvements.

Neighboring Southwick is also going through the Master Plan process, and also has not implemented a new Master Plan in more than 50 years. Humason said that he and the city are benefitting by being a few steps behind Southwick and being able to watch that town go through the process first.

Unlike Southwick, Humason said that Westfield’s committee will likely not consist largely of representatives from other boards. The committee will mostly act as a guide for the public hearings that will need to take place throughout the process. Public input, Humason said, will mostly come from audience participation in the public hearings.

He pointed to Northampton’s Master Plan Committee, which he said has about 50 people.

“We want input from 50 people but we don’t need them on the committee,” said Humason, “The committee is there to move along the process. The biggest part will be audience participation.”

In addition to the committee itself, Westfield will hire a consultant who specializes in developing local master plans.

The entire process is expected to take at least a year. Humason said that it will cost approximately $125,000, which City Council appropriated from free cash last month.

“I am excited for the future of our city and pleased that we will have the chance to steer that future via our Master Plan Committee,” said Humason. “I would encourage any Westfield resident with a passion and an interest to come forward and apply. I am hoping to have a large pool of people to choose from for this committee.”

Though the committee will likely not have a specific structure of representation from other boards, Humason said he hopes to have members of the committee representing residents, business owners, senior citizens, city officials and members of the Westfield Public Schools community.

Those who are interested in joining the committee should send their resume and letter of interest to Humason’s office in City Hall, 59 Court St., Westfield, MA 01085, or to [email protected].

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