Why is Swansea creating a Comprehensive Plan?
The State of Massachusetts requires that all cities and towns create and update a Master Plan (or Comprehensive Plan) as needed. Master Plans frequently result in bylaw changes, participating in new state or federal programs, coordinated grant applications and infrastructure investments, updated and more efficient administration, and increased volunteerism, service, and stewardship in a community. More importantly, the Master Planning process is a meaningful opportunity for you to come together as a community, to reassess your goals and priorities, and to set a course to achieve those goals over the next several years.
Why should I get involved?
For the Master Plan to accurately reflect the goals and priorities of the community, input from you is essential and is the most important part of the Master Planning process. Your participation in this process is the best way to ensure that you have a say in what happens in your neighborhood and your town.
Who should get involved?
The Master Plan will be directly informed and created by the input we receive from town residents, officials, seniors, parents, business owners, and even students! The project team listens to everyone’s ideas, identifies areas of consensus, and provides a road map to make your community goals real. Your ideas – combined with current information – will directly influence this plan and the future of your town.
What is the final document like?
That depends. Some towns like a long plan with a ton of data – like a textbook! Others like a concise, easy-to-understand, graphically engaging document – like a magazine! The project team will make sure that your Master Plan includes sufficient, necessary, but not excessive information on which you can base your decisions ... but we will probably lean towards making sure the plan is concise and approachable … something the average person wouldn’t mind reading at the end of a long workday.
What’s in a Master Plan?
Master Plans have 9 required “Elements.” You can think of these as chapters. They are: Vision, Land Use, Economic Development, Housing, Open Space & Recreation, Natural & Cultural Resources, Services & Facilities, Transportation & Circulation, and Implementation.
How do you make sure the Plan leads to real change? Don’t plans just sit on the shelf for 10 years until it’s time to update them again?
Well, that’s up to you! Master Plans – good Master Plans – should create their own community momentum, optimism, consensus, and excitement. Ideally, when the planning is done, there will be a group of you – let’s call you “Local Champions” – who believe in the work and want to make it real. For its part, the final Master Plan will read like a recipe or an instruction manual:
- It will include Goals for each Master Plan chapter. We'll describe the main reasons that each Goal is in the Plan; this “Big Picture” usually includes data and quotes from residents and workshop participants that explain why the Goal is important to you as a community.
- In turn, each Goal will have Strategies and list the main steps needed to achieve them. To make the Plan easy to use, each Strategy clearly presents:
- Who’s in charge – we call these the “Responsible Parties.”How to measure success and progress – we call these “Performance Measures.”
- Where to look for advice – we call these “Example Success Stories” and “Potential Partnerships.”
Other items from the Plan that might help – we call these “Complementary Actions.”
- All these “How To” items appear again, summarized in charts, tables, or other diagrams and graphics, in the Plan’s Implementation chapter.
How can I get involved?
The best way to get involved with the Master Plan is to interact with the project team, explore data and past plans, and participate in virtual meetings and online exercises to provide your honest feedback. Please visit the “Stay Connected” section of the Master Plan website to find links to all our engagement options.
What is a virtual workshop?
A virtual workshop is a period during which the project team will seek information from the public regarding specific topics online through a web page and virtual meetings.
How can I participate in the virtual workshop?
You can simply visit the web page and read the information provided, such as demographic and previous planning summaries. The web page will also host exercises that you can do on your own time, including mapping exercises and brief surveys. The project team will also host live Zoom meetings that are open to the public and designed to actively solicit your ideas, hopes, and input.
Do I need to attend both live Zoom meetings to get the full experience?
You do not need to attend both live Zoom meetings. The meetings will follow the same agenda and discussion questions. The project team is hosting two meetings to give greater opportunity and flexibility for the public to participate.
What if I can’t make it to any of the live Zoom meetings?
That’s totally ok! You also have the option to complete the online exercises on the virtual workshop page. In addition, we have provided engagement tools that are available at any point during the planning process including, project email, listening line, public comment form, and the Master Plan Survey.
Who should I contact if I need special accommodations or translations for materials and/or virtual meetings?
Please contact a member of the project team to discuss your needs and what we can do to accommodate them during the live Zoom meetings. We do request advance notice of 5 business days to prepare and gather all necessary tools and staff.