Southwick forming committee for open space plan

SOUTHWICK – The town of Southwick’s open space plan was discussed during this week’s Select Board meeting. Every community in Massachusetts has the option to renew their plan every seven years and with Southwick’s most recent plan stemming from 2011, there is a November 2019 deadline to create a new one.

The plan allows municipalities to apply for various grants from the state. According to the Town of Southwick’s Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart, the town has spoken to the PVPC (Pioneer Valley Planning Commission) and their next grant award cycle isn’t available to communities until the winter of 2019. Since Southwick’s plan is due in November of 2019, PVPC is unable to assist them.

Southwick Town Hall. (WNG File Photo)

However, the Southwick Community Preservation Committee has decided that they’ll fund the cost of the study for the plan out of their admin account. It’s a decision that allows the town to explore other entities to help them with this process.

“This will allow the community to get some estimates,” said Stinehart.

A key aspect of the project is forming an open space and recreation committee. In Southwick’s previous plan, their committee consisted of members from the Planning Board, Park and Rec Committee, CPC, Conservation Commission, as well as residents.

The Select Board members agreed that the same blueprint for a committee would make sense again this time around.

“We had a great open space plan done last time, so we just have to build off of that,” said Select Board Clerk Russ Fox.

Stinehart added that the town will be advertising the committee very shortly allowing interested individuals to join the committee.

The general purpose of an open space plan is about improving open spaces, plant and animal habitats, neighborhood parks, recreational facilities, and other areas. Updated open space plans are designed to serve for future management and guidance for communities.

If anyone is interested in joining Southwick’s Open Space and Recreation Committee, send your resume to the Select Board office by April 27, which is located on 454 College Hwy at the Southwick Town Hall.

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