Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Matthew A. Beaton was joined by various local officials in announcing the launch of the Park Planning and Assessment Tool at Chelsea City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 18.
The Tool will be used in conjunction with the Commonwealth’s 26 Gateway Cities and EEA to analyze the existing park and open space inventory and to identify and evaluate possible future investments.
“Parks and open space are the heart of every community, especially in our Gateway Cities,” said Secretary Beaton. “As these Cities plan for the future, the Park Planning and Assessment Tool will allow both the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and our partners in the Gateway Cities to make effective investments in parks and open space.”
Secretary Beaton announced a $125,000 investment to hire Stantec, an international design firm with significant experience in the Gateway Cities, to produce the Park Planning and Assessment Tool which will be used to guide subsequent park and open space projects. Both are evidence of the Baker Administration’s commitment to investing in parks and open space in urban communities.
“As a former city manager, I’ve seen the power of a park to transform a community firsthand,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “This new tool will help communities identify opportunities for targeted investments in our local parks and open spaces. We look forward to seeing this emphasis on local development resonate throughout gateway cities and the Commonwealth as a whole.”
The tool assesses how well each city’s park system is serving its residents and where the greatest areas of need for improvement are within each city. It also enables testing to determine which park investments will have the greatest impact.
Cities using the Tool will be able to make more informed decisions when applying for state and federal grant programs, and when making capital investments. Similarly, EEA will use the Tool to more effectively evaluate and compare park and open space proposals made by municipalities.
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has selected the cities of Chelsea and Worcester to test a more detailed version of the tool as a pilot project, with the goal of eventually implementing this more detailed version in all 26 Gateway Cities.
“We are excited to work with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs on this project,” said John DePriest, Director of Planning & Development for the City of Chelsea. “We will use the findings of the pilot project as we update our park and open space plan and as we prioritize our park investments moving forward.”
A deadline of June 30, 2015 has been identified to complete a preliminary park assessment in each of the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities.