Wayne Feiden: Providing an Open Space Legacy for Northampton

Wayne Feiden

Northampton is a walkable city with a lively downtown, charming neighborhoods with green parks, and lots of protected land on the outskirts of town. Many of its residents are passionate about the quality of life it offers and consider it one of the most livable and vibrant cities in America.

What are the secrets to Northampton’s success? One answer is the people who have worked hard to make sure that good community planning succeeds—people like Northampton’s Planning Director, Wayne Fieden.

Over the past 23 years, Wayne has worked to permanently preserve more than 12% of the city’s land area (over 1/2 percent of the city per year). He has coordinated many limited development projects (open space with housing, affordable housing, and recreation), orchestrated dozens of private, non-profit, and government partnerships, and developed ten miles of new rail trails.

"It doesn’t make sense to separate open space from social equity and economic development," says Wayne. "It's all part and parcel of the same thing, the trilogy that makes up good community planning." The trick to good open space planning, he goes on to explain, is including the community itself in the planning process, using a variety of techniques to protect open space in appropriate places, and requiring every developer who builds something new to help the community protect more open space.