ABOUT TOWN: Master Plan Forum Shares Utopian Vision for Stoughton's Future
Welcome to "About Town with Mark Snyder," a column that will keep you up to the minute with what's what, who's who and what's going on around town. If you see or hear something we could use here, let us know by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
MASTER PLAN PHASE ONE CLOSES OUT: On Monday evening (Jan. 28) at the Stoughton Senior Center, the Town of Stoughton’s Master Plan Committee hosted a public meeting to present and receive public comment on the draft vision, goals, and key issues of Phase One of the Town’s new Master Plan.
Master Plan Committee Chair Joseph Scardino welcomed the crowd, which filled the large conference room on a cold and snowy night. He said, “Thanks for coming despite the weather. It’s nice to see everyone getting involved with the Master Plan Committee.” He then introduced Sue Brown of Brown Walker Planners.
Brown said that the Youth Focus Group listed “people and sports” as the best of what Stoughton has to offer. On their importance list, they prioritized shopping, sports and entertainment venues. What needs to be improved? Overwhelmingly, the youth answered, “The schools.”
The adults who were part of the focus groups said that Stoughton’s location, public transportation, and town services were the best part. They were least satisfied with Stoughton Center and the lack of town planning. They said what was most needed in town was active and passive recreation, and more retail shopping locations. What’s least needed? More condos and apartments, they said.
The Forum, titled, “Developing a Vision for Stoughton,” is the second of two major public meetings which is part of the planning process to create a town-wide Master Plan. The Plan will identify policies, regulations and initiatives needed to guide future changes in the community. The consultant team, led by Brown Walker Planners, in conjunction with the Master Plan Committee, has engaged the community residents and business owners in a series of stakeholders interviews, public meetings, and an online survey.
The completion of Phase One of the Master Plan will result in a Visioning Report that includes an overview of existing conditions within the town, and a shared vision statement that outlines the community’s desired future.
Brown ran through the results of the previous meeting, and invited participants to break into smaller groups for discussion on a number of topics. She was looking for opinions on the “Shared Community Vision," “Preliminary Goals," and “Key Issues” that were determined by the previous community meeting.
Among the “Shared Community Visions” was having Stoughton be recognized as an inclusive and resilient community, offering an exceptional quality of life to its residents, businesses and visitors. They looked to a future where the Town provided public services and facilities that assure a clean, healthy and safe community; a school system with state-of-the-art facilities, a strong curriculum and exceptional educators; A Stoughton Center that is the municipal, social and cultural heart of the Town; and greater use of public transportation, an extensive network of sidewalks, trails, bike lanes, and re-configured streets that better serve drivers, riders and walkers.
They also pictured a future of “Stoughton’s landscaping contributing to its suburban character with a mosaic of natural systems that include open fields, ponds, wetlands, waterways, forests and street trees”; Preserving the Town’s historic buildings and landscapes to provide space for municipal, cultural, recreational and educational programs; Attractive and active business corridors and centers that will provide an array of activity centers, services, jobs, and tax revenues; Neighborhoods that are distinct, yet unified, with varying housing styles, lot sizes, and settlement patterns that serve a diversity of residents; and above all, Stoughton’s sense of community be the Town’s defining quality.
Preliminary goals that were explored included “Suburban Character and Natural Resources”; “Historic Resources”; “Transportation and Circulation”; “Town Center”; “Neighborhoods”; “Economic Development”; “Education”; “Public Service, Facilities and Infrastructure”; “Energy & Sustainability”; and “Community”.
Among the key issues, participants overwhelmingly placed the Town’s Image, the Downtown Center, and the Schools at the top of the list. Economic Development, Public Safety, and “Livability” followed closely behind.
Scardino said the next step is looking for a consultant for Phase Two, with an emphasis on economic development. Brown said she planned to print out all the feedback, and send it as a report to the Master Plan Committee, who would then present it to the community on the Town Website.
Faces in the Crowd included School Committee members Chair Deb Sovinee, Vice Chair and candidate for re-election Joyce Husseini, George Dolinsky and Dr. Erdem Ural. Also in the crowd were Pat McNeil, Carol Brown and Debra Cote, who are all running for school committee. Selectmen Cynthia Walsh and John Anzivino were there. The Stoughton Chamber was represented by Chris Petrie and Terry Schneider. Stoughton Library Director Pat Basler and Karen Hall, Director of the Youth Commission and Council on Aging were also present.