Southwick Open Space draft map available

SOUTHWICK – The town is making progress on its Open Space Plan and will offer a review of the plan during the Oct. 2 Open Space and Recreation Committee meeting and a draft map is available on the town website.

The Committee will meet at 7 p.m. in the Land Use Room at Town Hall. The plan will also be discussed at the Oct. 7 Conservation Commission meeting.

Conservation Commission Coordinator Dennis Clark said the state requires an updated plan and the town began working on it in May of 2018.

“One of the main objectives has been to update the mapping,” said Clark. “It includes all open space properties and property protected temporarily and in perpetuity.”

A survey was sent to residents earlier this year in property tax bills for residents to weigh-in on what they want from the town’s open space.

“The main point they brought up was the map,” Clark said. “People don’t know where the open spaces are and what they can use them for and when they can use them.”

Clark said residents were also interested in having a town dog park.

“A lot of people are driving to Connecticut and Agawam to the dog park,” said Clark, “and more than just using it as a park, they want to use it for socializing with their dogs.”

Another common request made through the survey was more recreational activities.

“We have a new generation of emerging seniors who want recreation such as horseshoes, bocce and pickleball,” Clark said.

The state tasks towns with performing outreach as part of the plan and Clark has met with various town boards and commissions to find out what town officials are looking for when it comes to open space.

Clark noted that he is working to make sure future open space is approved by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. He said the EOEEA approval means an act of Congress would be needed to change an open space in perpetuity designation.

Clark hopes the public will attend the Open Space and Recreation Committee and Conservation Commission meetings to comment on the plan. A draft of the map is available at southwickma.org.


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