MONSON – A recent survey and focus group, used to assist in the creation of a plan to guide the allocation of future Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds, found that residents of Monson are most interested in developing open spaces and recreation in the to protect the outdoors.
The survey was published by the Monson Community Preservation Committee (CPC). Around 200 residents took part in the survey.
Leslie Duthie, a member of the CPC, said the group has been active since 2007. “During this time, we have focused on ‘low hanging fruit’ that needs to be addressed,” she said. These include housing construction, open space preservation, historic restoration and outdoor recreation, all funded by the CPC’s conservation funds.
Now that the poll is complete, Duthie gave an overview of the results. She explained that protecting open space/land and funding more outdoor recreation projects is a common vision among the majority of residents.
She went on to say that people have some specific recommendations for the four program areas. Regarding housing, residents suggested that the city work more closely with the housing department to obtain more housing. Some suggested that the focus should be on finding housing for the disabled and the elderly. A focus group that discussed the issue said there isn’t much land in the city suitable for these units. “Monson doesn’t have a lot of flat land,” Duthie said.
She added, “People felt at home in Monson [are] inexpensive.”
On the historical restoration, Duthie said, “Projects seem expensive.” She continued, “[The CPC] spent almost $2 million on the historical restoration.” Duthie said the cost is high because the restoration has to be done a certain way.
She shared that something people are interested in is a project for community use, such as further using the Memorial Hall for various events. In the past, Duthie said one of their biggest projects was the Memorial Hall restoration, for which they committed $1.5 million. Because this building is used for a variety of events around the city, Duthie said that among other things, the preservation of this building is necessary.
Other historical restoration survey results showed that residents want to preserve the historical documents in the city.
Regarding outdoor recreation, Duthie said the city had come together for a “limited focus group” to discuss some specific issues. Because many enjoy outdoor recreation, some individuals are looking for areas where this can take place. “[People are] often looking for more sports fields, [but] Unfortunately, we don’t have extra flat land to build a big football field,” Duthie said.
Other requirements for outdoor recreation included the installation of additional lighting for specific areas, such as: B. the tennis courts on State Street. Duthie said the tennis courts were converted into an ice rink last winter. Since the sun sets earlier in winter, such activities require lighting.
One of the disadvantages of outdoor recreation is that the CPC cannot fund indoor recreation. For example, if people wanted more indoor basketball courts, the CPC couldn’t help fund it, Duthie said.
The last of the four program areas – open space – showed that people favor protecting more land, preserving rural communities and adding more hiking or biking trails. “The last two years [especially] showed how important that is,” Duthie said of outdoor trails.
She added that they recently completed their open space plan and public land is “crucial”.
Duthie noted that residents also expressed interest in a greenway, a north-south corridor that would allow wildlife passage. This would allow the animals to travel safely from southern to northern Monson, she said. “[The] Plots are connected to allow animals to cross.”
With all of the data gathered from the survey and focus group, Duthie said the CPC will review the plan that the consultant put forward. The consultant, JM Goldson, was hired by the CPC to design the survey and collect the data. Now they are responsible for developing a plan to move forward.
Duthie said JM Goldson has made CPC plans for other cities and “a good idea” of what Monson needs. Once the plan is ready, the board must approve the plan.
Overall, Duthie said this provides guidance to her committee. “If we look at the plan, [this will] Adapting and leading CPC projects over the next five years.”