State Releases New Plan for 495/MetroWest Development and Conservation
Michael P. O'Connor
BOSTON –The Patrick-Murray Administration’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (HED) has released the 495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan, a blueprint for job creation, economic development and preservation efforts along the I-495 corridor.
“As we continue our economic recovery, the mix of business development and quality of life along the 495 corridor must be nurtured and preserved,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “This plan will help maintain that balance and continue to move this important region forward.”
Created with input from residents, local officials and regional organizations and business leaders, the plan will help guide regional and state development and provide direction for public investments to preserve the intrinsic qualities of the region.
As members of the 495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan team, Mass Audubon helped develop an online toolkit that will assist in implementation of the Plan.
“The MetroWest is a vibrant growth area that supports many companies in high-technology, life sciences and innovation, which are the backbone of our growing economy,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki. “This plan offers an outline to the region’s future, supporting long-term economic growth while also maintaining the region’s position as a great place to live.”
“Protecting our natural resources – like water – as part of economic development is smart planning and supports the Patrick-Murray Administration’s integrated approach to planning,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “Now that we have a plan outlining preservation and development priorities, we can all work to protect land and natural resources in the region, while at the same time investing in job creation.”
The plan establishes a set of six fundamental principles for the region, which include: transportation and other infrastructure upgrades; new commercial and residential growth; land use and transportation decisions based on policies like the Global Warming Solutions Act and the Clean Energy and Climate Plan; creation and preservation of workforce housing that matches new job rates; creation and maintenance of an effective public transit system; and coordinated planning and implementation efforts.
“Planning for both conservation and development together preserves clean water, natural areas, and community character while providing needed jobs and housing,” said Jack Clarke, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations at Mass Audubon. “This plan provides a blueprint for curtailing sprawl and charting a course that is twice green – environmentally and economically.”
By providing a regional perspective on the 495/MetroWest Region, the plan will help local, regional and state partners make decisions and investments that promote new growth which maximizes current resources in the region and to assure that continued growth will be sustainable over the long term.
HED partnered with Mass Audubon, the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the 495/MetroWest Partnership, the MetroWest Regional Collaborative, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Massachusetts Department of Transportation to advance the regional planning effort in the 37 cities and towns within the 495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan area.
For more information see the state’s full press release.
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.