Planning & Conservation Department Mission
The Planning & Conservation Department is responsible for the Town’s land use planning and natural resource protection and works on economic and community development activities identified in Town Plans. The Department represents the Town and its interests at both the regional and state level through a variety of projects and planning initiatives. The Department provides support to the Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Board of Selectmen, Energy Committee, Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC), Agriculture Commission, RiverCulture and a variety of ad-hoc and regional committees.
Avenue A Streetscape Enhancement Program-~ The Planning Department secured a $384,000 of Community Development Block Grant to replace 33 downtown streetscape lights to new LED fixtures and install a pedestrian gathering area with a safer pedestrian crossing at the downtown’s main intersection of Avenue A and 3rd Street.~Construction was completed in 2015. The Town has applied for funding for second phase to extend streetscape lighting from 5th street to 7th street and within Peskeomskut Park. These were action items identified in the 2013 Downtown Turners Falls Livability Plan
Unity Skate Park-~Following the successful reconstruction of Unity Park in Turners Falls in 2013, the town obtained a $272,000 PARC grant to match the town and donated contributions to enable the construction of the park, which opened in winter 2015/2016. This was an action item identified in the 2013 Downtown Turners Falls Livability Plan and 2010 Open Space and Recreation Plan.
Millers Falls Road Bank Erosion and Stormwater Control Project-~In 2015, the Town stabilized a rapidly eroding bank that threatened the stability of Millers Falls Road- a critical thoroughfare and emergency evacuation route in Montague. MEMA’s Natural Hazard Mitigation grant program contributed 70% of the project cost to the Town’s match. This was an action item identified in the 2015 Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Broadband Expansion to un-served premises-~6% of Montague residences, and at least 16 businesses in Montague do not have access to cable internet. The Planning Department works with the Montague Broadband Committee and Mass Broadband Institute to implement a broadband strategy to “light up” all premises in Montague.
Cultural Preservation Planning- 1676 Battle of Great Falls-~An unprecedented consortium of 4 neighboring towns and 3 tribal historic preservation offices have partnered with the Town and the National Park Service to conduct a comprehensive study of the extent and context of the 1676 battle that was a turning point in the King Philip’s War. An additional purpose was to engage local officials, landowners and the interested public in effort to locate and encourage the protection of the battlefield. Public events regularly attract 100+ attendees, which demonstrate substantial public interest in the project. The research lays the groundwork for a longer term battlefield Archeology project, national historic register designation, and cultural tourism. The first phase wraps up August 2016. The Town has applied for
funding of a second phase of archeological research in 2017.
Canal Street Public Parking Lot- The Planning Department secured a $352,750 Massworks Infrastructure Program grant to construct a 25 space public parking lot in Turners Falls to support redevelopment in the Historic Canal District and ease demand created by the increase in programming at the Shea Theater. The lot is at the corner of 3rd and Canal Street and is a former Brownfield site. Construction is scheduled for summer 2016. This was an action item identified in the 2013 Downtown Turners Falls Livability Plan.
Turners Falls RiverCulture Program- 2016 is the 9th~year of the “Commonwealth Award” winning program that has been instrumental in making Turners Falls a special and attractive place. RiverCulture coordinates a monthly event series to stimulate economic activity and developed a rotating art exhibition space in vacant storefronts. The program is developing new partnerships with area arts organizations, businesses, and colleges and expanding its public art portfolio. Nested within the Planning Department, RiverCulture is a longstanding element of Montague’s economic development strategy.
Commercial Homesteading Program- In 2015, the town stimulated $3,000,000 of private investment into the preservation and productive reuse of vacant historic properties in Montague through the Commercial Homesteading Program. 26-28, 30, and 34 East Main Street now host a mix of uses including Laundromat, a construction company headquarters, a restaurant space, and 9 residential units in the center of Millers Falls. The former Montague Center School building is being converted to 20 high end residential units. The Town is currently working with a developer on Strathmore Mill Building #11 into a mixed-use project with $2.3 million in private investment.
Department of Public Works Facility Planning- The Planning Department provides staff support to the DPW Facility Planning Committee in support of designing a construction a new public works facility at Sandy Lane. The DPW is the Capital Improvement Committee’s #1 priority for public facility replacement.
Turnpike Road Industrial Park and Solar Planning:~The Department continues to advance the planning and design for a proposed 40 acre light-industrial area off Sandy Lane. The Town solicited proposals and awarded development rights to private firm to construct a 6.4 MW project to generate $5.3M in lease revenue plus taxes to the Town over the life of the project. The solar is planned in conjunction with industrial park and DPW facility planning.