City seeks public input on open space and recreation

Children and adults stay cool during the grand opening of Chapman Park in July 2012. (WNG file photo)

WESTFIELD—The city is looking for public input for the development of an open space and recreation plan, which leads Westfield to opportunities for a variety of state grants.

The Open Space and Planning Committee, who is heading the effort along with a District Local Technical Assistance Grant from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, is requesting ideas from residents to help guide them in the formation of the open space and recreational plan that will be replacing the city’s current one.

They will be holding two public sessions for residents, one on Wednesday June 21, at North Middle School on Southampton Road, and another on Thursday June 22, at South Middle School on West Silver Street; both will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. In addition, residents can log onto the Westfield website and find a survey to assist in the idea phase.

“From a planning perspective, it’s important to take a look at the community. We don’t really have a master plan so this is the closest we get to that,” Jay Vinskey, city planner for Westfield, said. “This is a rare opportunity for the community to get together and decide a direction and vision going forward.”

The open space and recreation plan allows municipalities to apply for various grants in the state but they have a certain timespan for which they are eligible for grants.

Vinskey said that the city’s current one is coming up on its expiration, which is seven years.

Regarding what suggestions are being solicited, Vinskey said that the city is seeking a variety of input.

“We are hoping to get a large response,” he said. “The more input we have the better.”

During the previous plan, Vinskey said that renovations to Chapman Park, improving and building out the Columbia Greenway and ballfield renovations were some of the talking points within the plan. And while focuses on hiking, biking and parks can remain, the website also suggests ideas for farmland and aquifer protection, as well as scenic corridors, to name a few others. The intent, Vinskey said, is to set up what will happen and focus the city’s energies on what residents feel is important.

In addition to the meetings, Vinskey said that paper surveys are available to fill out. Also, you can log onto www.cityofwestfield.org/openspaceplan and take an online survey and find out more information.

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