Montachusett Regional Planning Commission
2007 Annual Report
Aerial Photos Courtesy of Pictometry
Serving the communities of the Montachusett Region:
• Ashburnham •Ashby • Athol • Ayer • Clinton • Devens • Fitchburg •
• Gardner • Groton • Harvard • Hubbardston •Lancaster • Leominster •
• Lunenburg • Petersham • Phillipston • Royalston • Shirley • Sterling •
• Templeton • Townsend • Westminster • Winchendon•
Montachusett Regional Planning Commission \
R1427 Water Street Telephone: (978) 345-7376
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
Fitchburg, MA 01420 Fax: (978) 348-2490
MONTACHUSETT REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION MEMBERS
July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008
Chairman: Victor Koivumaki
Vice Chairman: Vyto Andreliunas
Treasurer: James Meehan
Assistant Treasurer: Robert Grubb
Secretary: John White
Members and Alternates representing:
Ashburnham - Bruce Whitney and Chris Gagnon
Ashby – Alan Pease and Wayne Stacey
Athol – James Meehan
Ayer – Pat Walsh and Chris Ryan
Clinton – Don Lowe
Devens – Peter Lowitt
Fitchburg – Paula Caron
Gardner – Robert Grubb and Allen Gross
Groton – Joshua Degen
Harvard – Lucy Wallace and Kara Minar-McGuire
Hubbardston – Paul Hale and Linda Brisbois
Lancaster – Victor Koivumaki and Eugene Christoph
Leominster – Jack Raymond
Lunenburg – James Halloran and Robert Bowen
Petersham – Ellen Anderson
Phillipston – Ronald Recos
Royalston – Jon Hardie and Vyto Andreliunas
Shirley – Charles Colburn and Joseph Lynch
Sterling – Michael Padula
Templeton – Robert Columbus
Townsend – Pat McCloy and Louis Kiklis
Westminster – Andrew Sears
Winchendon - John White and James Kreidler
A Message from the Executive Director
MRPC is pleased to present you with its Annual Report and a report of the efforts of the
Montachusett Enterprise Center, Inc. (MEC).
2007 was a transitional year for the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC). We welcomed new Planning
Commissioners Christopher Ryan, Ayer; John Hardie, Royalston; and Charles Colburn; Shirley. Three employees left the
MRPC: Two retired and one relocated. Outgoing employees included: Laila Michaud (hired in 1975, served as the
Executive Director from 2003 to 2007, and retired in November 2007); Anita Cormier (served as the Administrative
Secretary from 1999 through August 2007); and, Nathalie Orlhac (former GIS Analyst relocated to her native France in
October 2007). Three, new employees were hired in 2007: John Hume was hired as a Principal Planner in October 2007;
Renee Marion was engaged by the MRPC as the new GIS Analyst in November 2007 and, Stephanie Brow started as the
new Administrative Secretary in October 2007. The MRPC selected Glenn Eaton as its new Executive Director in
Looking ahead, the MRPC will celebrate its fortieth year in business in 2008. In May 1968 the Montachusett Regional
Planning Commission first formed at the Lunenburg Town Hall with a total of seven communities. Please visit the
MRPC’s new website for an explanation of membership benefits and services, links to our member communities, the
Regional Planning Law, Board of Directors, and staff (www.mrpc.org).
The members of the Commission are experienced professionals and are dedicated to planning and regionalism. One
member has 28 years on our Board. Many members have been with us for more than ten years. Having volunteers with
this much experience and dedication is of the utmost importance to the staff. It is especially important during a staff
transitional year. The support of the Board members is very much appreciated. We want to express our deepest
appreciation to all Planning Commissioners, past and present, members of the MRPC’s Executive Committee in 2007
(Victor Koivumaki Chairman, Vyto Andreliunas Vice Chairman, John White Secretary, Jim Meehan Treasurer, Robert
Grubb Assistant Treasurer, Paula Caron At-Large Member, and Patty McCloy At-Large Member), both past Executive
Directors, (Laila Michaud and Mohammed Khan), and all other MRPC employees, past and present, for challenging all of
the staff into 2008 and beyond.
The stability of the staff helps the organization: Three of the senior-level employees have 20 or more years with the
MRPC. The collective education and experience among the eighteen employees will be focused to deliver high quality
services and products to the MRPC’s clients.
Revenue to the regional planning district enables it to deliver a variety of multi-disciplined planning services in the areas
of community and economic development, environment, geographic information systems (GIS), housing, transit, and
transportation. Services including preparing grant proposals and administering grants have been delivered with great
effect. Approximately 95% of the revenue earned by the MRPC is derived from federal and state agencies while the
remaining 5% is derived from the member municipalities.
Planners can be included in the group of those who do not want to prepare plans that are not implemented or that “sit on
the shelf.” Several recent planning efforts, such as build outs (2000), community development plans (2004), sub-prime
lending report (2007), regional transportation plan (2007), comprehensive economic development strategy (2008), all point
to the need to ensure that a variety of housing products, choices and prices are available to all strata of those who live in
the Montachusett Region. To that end, the MRPC has created a regional, non-profit affiliated organization to help create
affordably-priced housing for families in need. We have begun two, single-family affordable housing projects in Athol
and Fitchburg. See page 14 of this document for more information about the efforts of the Montachusett Enterprise
Center, Inc. (MEC).
At a Montachusett Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (MRCEDS) Committee meeting, and prior to
his untimely passing in 2005, David Jarvenpaa coined the phrase, “Building a Better Montachusett.” This was done in the
context of identifying a theme for a summit on the regional economy coordinated by the MRPC. These four words stuck
with the staff. Virtually every planning and development project that we undertake is the accomplishment of an objective
that helps us achieve this goal. Within this theme I have outlined some agency-wide goals for the future of the Planning
Commission that we will use to guide the employees as we continue to address the long-term planning needs of the
1. With constant vigilance raise the level of awareness of the MRPC among our member communities, educate our
clients about the services available to them, and enhance the image of the organization.
2. Provide multi-disciplined planning and development services to our member municipalities, and state and
federal funding contracting agencies.
3. Provide a forum for the discussion, debate and implementation of issues of local regional concern among our 22
municipal clients and Devens.
4. Deliver education, training, and technical assistance needed by local officials to assist them with the successful
implementation of their duties.
5. Cooperate with local and regional organizations for the advancement of the region.
6. Update the MRPC’s Bylaws and the MRPC Personnel Policies and Employee Procedures Handbook as needed.
7. Secure the resources for the creation of strategic plans for the MRPC and the MEC.
8. Update the MRPC’s Goals and Objectives: They should reflect current documents such as the Regional
Transportation Plan, Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and other, relevant local and regional
9. Obtain the funding necessary for the completion of a regional policy plan and complete the plan for the
10. Embrace new methods and technologies in our effort to improve the delivery of our services.
In this Annual Report the accomplishments of the MRPC for 2007 have been organized by planning discipline in
alphabetical order: Comprehensive Planning; Transportation; Geographic Information Systems (GIS); and, Transit.
On Templeton’s behalf, in August of 2006, MRPC prepared a second Smart Growth Technical Assistance
Grant Proposal and submitted it to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. A $20,000
award was made to Templeton in November 2006. These grant funds were used to engage the MRPC to
prepare multiple zoning bylaw amendments for the Town of Templeton: Inclusionary Housing, Open Space
Residential Design, Wind Energy Conversion Systems, and amendments to multiple definitions. All work
was completed by December 31, 2007 so that the Planning Board could present the proposed amendments to
the next available town meeting. The final report is due at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental
Affairs (EOEEA) by February 1, 2008.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: Adopting the above-mentioned zoning bylaw amendments will enable the community to
increase its supply of affordable housing units, protect natural resources, and harness renewable energy for the generation
CHAPTER 43D STREAMLINED PERMITTING
In 2007, Regional Planning Agencies throughout the state were engaged by the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts to deliver education and technical assistance to their member communities concerning
Streamlined Permitting. Streamlined Permitting (Chapter 43D) provides an opportunity for communities
to promote targeted economic development by guaranteeing local permitting decisions on priority
development sites within 180 days.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: Grants up to $100,000 to communities for professional staffing, consulting
services, local government reorganization, online marketing of your priority development site, and other eligible
activities. Priority consideration for some state grants.
NATURAL HAZARDS PRE-DISASTER MITIGATION PLANNING
MRPC continues its development of a regional, multi-jurisdictional strategic Natural Hazard Pre-Disaster
Mitigation (PDM) Plan. MRPC is assisting its communities in the development of a Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) required locality specific Natural Hazard Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan.
These plans will be integrated into a regional plan and then become part of the overall state plan. Plans
need local, state and federal approval and will make communities eligible for pre-disaster mitigation
funding. Funding for mitigation planning began in the Fall of 2006.
As a result of communications and a joint meeting of MRPC and the Massachusetts Emergency
Management Agency (MEMA) expectations and directions were established. MRPC will prepare the
overall plan for the region and individual communities. Preliminary organizing began with the 22 MRPC
communities and a natural hazard PDM planning team meeting for the entire Montachusett Region was
held in the past year with 40 participants. Follow-up Hazard and Vulnerability Sessions were held for
several individual communities, with only a few communities remaining. The next phase of the project,
Critical Facility Data Collection, has recently begun and will continue through the early part of next year.
We actively participate with regional groups such as Central Massachusetts Homeland Security Council
and the Montachusett Regional Emergency Planning Committee, as well as state MEMA Meetings.
Benefits to MPC Communities: A Natural Hazard Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan outlines actions that can be taken
now to reduce the impact of these natural disasters when and if they occur. The Plan will also reduce the region’s
vulnerability to natural disasters by effectively identifying appropriate projects for the funding that will be made
available in the future.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA)
In November 2006 staff prepared and submitted a grant application to the EPA for $200,000 for the
completion of 14 Phase I and two Phase II Environmental Site Assessments. This grant proposal was
awarded to the MRPC in May 2007. This is the fifth EPA grant awarded to the MRPC since 1998 and the
fourth grant for Brownfields Site Assessment programming.
EPA - Brownfields
Starting in May 2007, the MRPC sought “brownfield site nominations” from its 22 member municipalities.
Up to eighteen possible brownfield sites were identified prior to October 1, 2007: the official starting date of
the grant program. For the latest grant, the necessary procurement tasks were completed by the MRPC
during the summer. TRC Environmental Corporation was engaged by October 1, 2007. TRC will complete
the 14 Phase I and two Phase II Environmental Site Assessments and complete community outreach tasks on
behalf of the MRPC. Also, during the summer, the MRPC was the first US EPA grantee in New England to
submit is “work plan” to the US EPA and the first to receive its “cooperative agreement”, ensuring that it
could hit the ground running on October 1, 2007.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: Since 1998 the MRPC has been awarded $550,000 in Brownfields Site Assessment
grant funds assisting with the redevelopment of six sites and the ongoing redevelopment of another eight properties.
Forty documents have been prepared by the MRPC’s consultant (TRC Environmental Solutions) documenting the
level of environmental contamination on 24 properties in eight of MRPC’s communities. 20 Phase I Environmental
Site Assessments, three Technical Memoranda, five Phase II’s, ten Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPP), one
Environmental Engineering/Cost Analysis and one Response Acton Outcome Statement (RAO) have been completed.
Housing /Community Development
GET THE LEAD OUT PROGRAM ASHBURNHAM SENIOR CENTER FEASIBILITY
MRPC assisted three families with the “Get STUDY
the Lead Out” Program. These funds are This study was started in 2007. MRPC staff assisted the
used in conjunction with the Community Council on Aging (COA) Director and the consultant that
Development Block Grant and/or the was hired by the town. The architectural firm will
American Dream Downpayment Initiative complete schematic designs and cost estimates for an
program to remove lead within the home. existing building in Ashburnham which currently houses
the COA. MRPC staff assisted with contract execution
Benefits to MRPC Communities: An additional and attended monthly meetings with the architect and
three families in the region are now living in lead Council on Aging.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: The seniors in Ashburnham
are on step closer to having and expanded and up to date
STERLING SENIOR CENTER FEASIBILITY STUDY
This study was completed in 2007. The consultant, Richard Alvord Architects, was hired by the Town of
Sterling and the Council on Aging studied two sites. They completed schematic designs for both buildings
along with cost estimates. The architects conducted a presentation on both sites for the Board of Selectmen.
MRPC assisted with the procurement of the architectural firm, assisted with contract execution, and set up
meetings for progress sessions.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: The seniors in Sterling are one step closer to identifying a facility for their new Senior
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAMMING
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program was created in 1974 by the Federal Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to assist low and moderate income (LMI) persons. The CDBG program
is administered by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Over the last eight
years MRPC has assisted several communities with preparation of Block Grant applications. MRPC also provides
administrative services to communities that were awarded Block Grant funds. MRPC has at least seven
employees with CDBG experience with more than 75 years of combined experience. We’ve helped 12
Montachusett communities access over $6 million in CDBG funds in ten years. Successful CDBG programs
administered in the following communities include:
Petersham. MRPC continued its works with the Town of Petersham to complete the design, bid specifications,
and cost estimates for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance improvements to two town owned
buildings. An extension has been granted by the State to complete this project. Benefits to this MRPC Community:
The completion of design plans and specifications will assist the town to remove architectural barriers for disabled and elderly
Townsend, Ashby and Ashburnham (TAA). MRPC continued its work with Townsend, Ashby and
Ashburnham to complete a regional housing rehabilitation program. This program was completed in June of
2007. Sixteen homeowners were assisted with these funds; seven in Townsend; four in Ashby; and five in
Ashburnham. Benefits to this MRPC Community: Homeowners have received assistance from the grant.
Lancaster, Lunenburg, Sterling and Harvard (LLSH). Lancaster was awarded $1,000,000 in funds on behalf
of the four towns in July of 2007 to conduct a four town regional housing rehabilitation program. Inspections were
conducted on the first few cases in each of the four towns. Benefits to this MRPC Community: A potential 28
homeowners will be assisted with this program.
Sterling. The Town of Sterling was awarded $884,409 in July of 2007 to conduct an infrastructure project at the
Washacum Village neighborhood and to assist two or three homeowners with housing rehabilitation funds.
MRPC completed the environmental review process and received clearance from the State to begin this program.
Benefits to this MRPC Community: Seventy-four (74) homes will have a new wastewater collection system installed and two
to three homeowners will receive repairs to their homes.
The Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) executed a Capacity Building Grant with the
MRPC. Services that were provided by MRPC include the delivery of technical assistance to communities in
the areas of community and economic planning and development. We annually update the Montachusett
Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (MRCEDS). This document contains the following:
List of infrastructure and other needed projects, by municipality.
Census and other date available to grant writers throughout the Montachusett Region.
Affordable Housing Planning.
Other economic development planning efforts as directed by our communities during the program year.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: MRPC municipalities have received and can continue to apply for EDA infrastructure
grants leading to job creation. Also, MRPC Housing Planning Assistance has identified additional affordable housing
opportunities that will lead to an increase in the supply of lower cost homes in the future.
TRAIL INVENTORY PROJECT LUNENBURG FLOOD HAZARD
The MRPC prepared a report to identify local existing trails
in the towns of Groton, Lancaster, Sterling and Townsend. This plan was developed as part of the MRPC’s 2006-2007
The goal of this study is to develop a Trail Inventory Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP). The objective of
Report that can be utilized by these towns to establish goals this task was to provide information and assistance to the
related to the development of multi-purpose trails within Local Emergency Planning Committee for the town of
the community and the region. The report will identify Lunenburg, in conjunction with the cities of Fitchburg and
trials that can be connected to existing or proposed trails of Leominster, with various aspects related to their local
neighboring communities have been examined. emergency planning. As part of this plan, issues related to
critical need infrastructure, transportation and evacuation
The Plan outlines the identified corridors and their routes were identified. Specifically, Lunenburg was
potential as multi-purpose trails. Information has been provided with maps and Geographic Information System
gathered on the potential trails regarding their location, (GIS) data that identified roadways, bridges, dams, critical
natural features, physical structures and historical need facilities and the population that lies within the Federal
background. Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: Studies, in terms of recreational Benefits to MRPC Communities: Data can be used in conjunction
use and conservation, have also been compiled. How these trails with a free viewer called ArcReader, and can be used in an
correspond to the town’s Open Space & Recreation Plan as well emergency situation to locate where evacuations may need to take
as state, regional and national trail plans were evaluated. place if breeches occurred at any of the dams identified in the three
SCENIC BYWAY PROJECTS
Two Scenic Byway projects involving two communities in our region are underway. The Route 122 Scenic Byway
Project is being led by Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) and involves Route 122 in the
towns of Paxton, Rutland, Oakham, and Barre in the CMRPC region as well as the town of Petersham in the MRPC
The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) is working to develop the Mohawk Trail East Scenic Byway,
which includes Routes 2 and 2A and a half mile buffer on both sides of the roads from the town of Athol in the MRPC
region through the towns of Orange, Wendell, Erving, Gill, and Greenfield in the FRCOG region. The Mohawk Trail
East Scenic Byway connects in Greenfield with the Mohawk Trail West Scenic Byway. MRPC staffs have attended a
number of meetings and have discussed suggestions for the management plans of these projects.
The Scenic Byway program is a source of funding for various improvements along the roads. CMRPC and FRCOG
have received grants to prepare management plans for each respective project. Once a Scenic Byway management
plan has been prepared, the communities along the byway can apply for funding to construct the physical
improvements recommended in the plan. To be designated a Scenic Byway a road must possess characteristics of
regional significance within at least one of the intrinsic qualities. These qualities include archaeological, cultural,
historic, natural, recreational or scenic significance.
The funds that are attained through the Scenic Byway program are not available for routine road maintenance and
reconstruction improvements. Implementation money is most often used for improvement projects such as installation
of historic markers, off-road parking areas, informational kiosks, scenic vista preservation, town common
improvements, improving links to nearby recreation areas and other eligible projects.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: The communities of Athol and Petersham will be eligible for grants to construct and maintain
any eligible physical improvements recommended as part of the plan.
MONTACHUSETT REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION PLAN
Two-thousand seven (2007) saw the completion and endorsement by the Montachusett Metropolitan Planning
Organization (MMPO) of the Montachusett Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The
RTP is a federally required document that outlines the transportation needs and
priorities of the region. Updated every four years, the RTP is developed through
previous studies, discussions with local officials and public comments. The plan
covers all modes of transportation. Individual chapters focus on: Infrastructure
(Bridges, Dams and Pavement); Transit (Fixed Route and Commuter Rail); Railroads;
Freight/Goods Movement; Alternative Modes – Bicycle & Pedestrian; Safety;
Security: and Environmental issues. The RTP has a 25 year life span and thus also
includes forecasts related to socio-economic conditions (i.e. population, housing and
employment projections) developed in consultation with MassHighway and the
Executive Office of Transportation (EOT). During the course of development of the
RTP, the MRPC held several public meetings to present data and information and to
solicit public input and feedback. A draft document was put out for a 30 day public
review and comment period and a subsequent MMPO meeting was held on March
28, 2007 to review comments and formally endorse the RTP. Copies have been
distributed to each MRPC member community and are also available for download
through the MRPC website www.mrpc.org.
MONTACHUSETT PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PROGRAM
In June of 2007, the Montachusett Metropolitan Planning Organization (MMPO) endorsed and updated Public
Participation Program (PPP) for the region. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A
Legacy for Users (SAETEA-LU) of 2005 required metropolitan planning areas to have a Continuing, Comprehensive, and
Coordinated (“3C”) transportation planning process that results in plans and programs that consider all transportation
modes and supports metropolitan community development and social goals. These plans and programs shall lead to the
development and operation of an integrated, Intermodal transportation system that facilitates the efficient, economic
movement of people and goods. In addition, SAFETEA-LU required that MPO’s establish a “proactive public
involvement process the provides complete information, timely public notice, full public access to key decisions, and
supports early and continuing involvement.” Based upon these requirements, the MRPC reviewed the previous PPP and
worked to update and refine the program in order to clarify and outline the process for public involvement in the
development of Regional Transportation Plans (RTP), Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP), Unified Planning
Work Programs (UPWP) and other major Transportation Studies by the MPO. Copies of the PPP are available on the
MRPC website at www.mrpc.org.
LOCAL TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
LANCASTER – PROJECT DEVELOPMENT STATUS OF INTERSECTIONS STUDIED IN THE SELECTED INTERSECTIONS TRAFFIC STUDY
Last year the MRPC conducted traffic and safety studies at the intersections listed below in the Town of Lancaster. This
study addressed the concerns that local representatives and officials in Lancaster expressed about the intersections. To
facilitate further study and completion of Project Need Forms* (PNF) for four of the intersections, MRPC staff compiled
crash reports from the Police Department. The project development status for these intersections is as follows:
1. Lunenburg Road (Rte 70) & Old Union Tnpk: PNF to be submitted to MassHighway.
2. Lunenburg Road (Rte 70) & Main Street (Route 117/70): PNF to be submitted to MassHighway.
3. Main Street/Seven Bridge Road (Route 117/70) & Main Street (Route 70)/Shirley Road: PNF to be submitted to
4. Main Street (Route 70) and Mill Street: No PNF at this time.
5. High Street (Route 110) and Mill Street: No PNF at this time.
6. Five Corners: PNF submitted to MassHighway by Town.
*Contact MRPC or MassHighway for description of the PNF.
TEMPLETON – TRAFFIC REPORT: INTERSECTION OF PATRIOTS RD (ROUTE 2A & 101) & GARDNER ROAD
(RT 101) AT NORTH MAIN AND SOUTH MAIN STREETS
This report provides updated traffic and safety data and analysis of the 2004 EO418 Community Development Plan and
studies the feasibility of the roundabout alternative (Alternative 3) of the plan. The major updates and findings include:
Projected 2020 PM peak hour turning movement count that is used to determine how this intersection will operate
as a roundabout until at least 2020.
Safety analysis of recent crash history that finds the intersection has a crash rate that is significantly above the
MassHighway District 3 average. Crashes that result in injuries are noticeably high at 33%.
The major problem is the five approaches to the intersection. This geometry produces multiple conflicting traffic
flows for vehicles as they maneuver thru the intersection.
Conceptual drawing that shows the existing footprint of the intersection could effectively handle a four-way
roundabout without disturbing adjacent properties.
2007 24 hour traffic volumes counts.
WESTMINSTER – CRASH CHARACTERISTICS REPORT FOR SOUTH STREET PROJECT
This report describes the crash history based on local Police Department crash reports and MassHighway crash data for
the proposed South Street project area over a five year period (2002 – 2006). The report was prepared for the project
consultant and MassHighway District 3 for further study of the safety conditions in and around the project area. The
project area begins at the intersection of Main Street and Leominster Street down South Street to the intersection of
Carter/Dawley Roads. Nearby intersections were also analyzed. Overall 44 crashes occurred over the five year period.
The two most significant findings were:
The South Street and Carter/Dawley Roads intersection saw the highest total number of crashes with 12. Four of
these crashes resulted in at least one injury.
The South Street road segment within the project area saw a total of nine crashes. One of these crashes resulted in
at least one injury.
GARDNER ROUTE 140 LANE DEPARTURE CRASH ROAD SAFETY AUDIT (RSA)
What is a Road Safety Audit (RSA)? The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) defines a RSA as a formal safety
examination of an existing or future traffic facility by an independent and multidisciplinary team. The purpose of an RSA
is to identify existing and potential safety issues and opportunities for implementing comprehensive countermeasures that
consider all roadway users. A lane departure crash is a type of non-intersection crash where a vehicle leaves the travel
lane. It is often categorized as a run-off-road crash. Other descriptions include: head-on crash, crash with a tree or
guardrail, or crash with some other fixed object. In Massachusetts, from 2002 to 2004, lane departure crashes accounted for
approximately 50% of all fatal crashes. Route 140 in Gardner was selected as the subject roadway for the MRPC region.
The RSA team includes officials from Gardner, MassHighway, FHWA, MassSAFE, and the MRPC. The draft safety
analysis revealed that between February 12, 2003 and March 20, 2005, 23 lane departure crashes occurred on this highway.
Of that total nine (39%) resulted in injuries. Many of the crashes were bad weather related, occurred on curves, involved a
single vehicle, and speed was a primary contributing factor. Some of the possible countermeasures in the draft RSA
include: improving signage such as adding more speed limit signs; adding warning signs to address intersection, weather
and curve issues (chevron signs); upgrade pavement markings and end treatments on guard rails. The final RSA Report
should be completed in 2008 and will contain further details on these issues.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: The above traffic studies and reports provide recommendations for improving traffic flow and
safety conditions. Included in the studies is information that can be used by the communities even if other improvement
recommendations come forward. There is existing conditions information such as a description of the surrounding area, traffic
volume counts, level of service analysis, crash analysis tables, signal warrant analysis and sight distance analysis. Also, future
traffic volumes and level of service analysis are predicted. The recommendations and information in these studies can be used by
communities to complete a Project Need Form (PNF) which is the required first step by MassHighway for a roadway project to be
included in the MRPC Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
REGIONAL CRASH DATABASE AND SAFETY ANALYSIS UPDATE
The Transportation Department has nearly completed a region wide safety analysis of the most dangerous intersections in
the region. The safety analysis is the first product in the development of a regional crash database that is based on
MassHighway crash data of the region from 2002 – 2005. MassHighway crash data includes a listing of all the individual
crashes (or crash records) that have been reported to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. The regional crash
database contains approximately 21,600 crash records that are divided into two major categories: intersection crashes that
have a crash record total of nearly 10,700 and non-intersection crashes that have a crash record total of approximately 10,900.
The most dangerous non-intersection crash locations will be determined during the next phase of the database creation.
The most dangerous intersections are ranked by the Equivalent Property Damage Only (EPDO) rating system. EPDO rates a
crash based on crash severity that gives one (1) point to a crash involving vehicular Property Damage Only; five (5) points for
a crash involving at least one Non-fatal Injury; and ten (10) points to a crash that involves at least one Fatal Injury. In other
words, one Fatal Injury crash equals two Non-fatal Injury crashes and ten Property Damage Only crashes. After determining
the EPDO of each crash, the EPDO ratings of the crashes for each intersection are totaled. A high EPDO total indicates a
hazardous intersection where crashes have the most severe consequences. To date, our analysis has found that there are 112
dangerous intersections. The table that follows lists the top ten most dangerous intersections in the region. The Route 2 and
Route I-190 interchanges are not included in this table.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: The crash database and safety analysis to determine the most dangerous locations in the communities of
the MRPC region will be used as a foundation to further evaluate the locations so that safety improvement projects can be developed for
the roadway system
MOST DANGEROUS INTERSECTIONS
City/Town Intersection Name Comments
Leominster Main Street (Route 13)/Nashua Street/Hamilton Street 208 108 Improvements Recommended
Leominster Route 2/Rte I-190 206 74 Further Study Needed
Leominster Monument Square (Main Street/Mechanic Street) 198 98 Further Study Needed
N Main Street (Route 12)/Nelson Street/Water Tower
Leominster 188 96 Study Completed
Fitchburg Bemis Road./John Fitch Highway/Summer Street 166 82 Further Study Needed
Fitchburg John Fitch Highway/Lunenburg Street (Route 2A) 165 81 Safety Audit Completed
Leominster Leominster Connector/Nashua Street 161 73 Improvements Made in 2003
North Main Street (Route 12)/Lindell Avenue/Hamilton
Leominster 155 75 Study Completed
Fitchburg Route 2/Mount Elam Road. 119 51 Further Study Needed
Fitchburg Water Street (Route 12)/Wanoosnoc Road/Bemis Road 113 57 Under Construction
The 2007 traffic count season consisted of approximately 150 counts during the months of May to October. As part of
our ongoing work with the Massachusetts Highway Department (Mass Highway) and the Executive Office of
Transportation (EOT), traffic volume counts were taken at 19 coverage count locations. The remaining locations were
identified through the MRPC count program. You can access our count information for the year on our website.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: Member communities benefit from our extensive traffic count program by using count
information in traffic studies for roadway improvements, being able to monitor increases or decreases in traffic flows, speed and
vehicle classification analysis, and commercial or economic development assistance. Traffic counts at specific locations can also be
requested through the Transportation Department.
MRPC provides transit planning services to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Montachusett Regional
Transit Authority (MART) through separate contracts. Short and long term transit planning services (projects)
provided to FTA and MART as well as community liaison and short term planning assistance to member
communities on mass transit planning matters. Previous work and projects include: Commuter Rail Ridership Survey
and Analysis, Commuter Rail Parking Facility Survey, Bus Passenger Profile Survey, Developing and Revising Bus
Routes in the Region based upon new developments and Socioeconomic and Demographic Demand Analysis
changes, and Site Analysis of potential improvements to Commuter Rail and Bus Stops and related Parking Facilities.
Also reviewing design plans and monitoring MART construction projects tasks accomplished and related projects in
2007 include the following:
Expansion of MART Storage Facility in Leominster
Assisted MART in reviewing the consultants Requests for Proposals (RFP), and in the selection of the Architectural
and the Engineering Consultant Gannett Fleming Engineers and Planners of Braintree to design the proposed
expansion and renovation of a MART owned facility located at 840 North Main Street, Leominster. The expansion
will include indoor storage facility for 100 buses and vans with bus wash and office space.
Parking Expansion at North Leominster Commuter Rail Station
Assisted MART in reviewing the consultants RFP’s proposals, and in the selection of the Architectural and the
Engineering Consultant, Jacobs Engineering of Boston, to design the proposed expansion of North Leominster Commuter
Rail Station parking garage structure facility for the three-hundred fifty (350) plus parking spaces to be used by rail
commuters in Leominster.
Gardner MART Storage and Maintenance Facility
Reviewed the Architectural and the Engineering design drawing plans and the construction specification manual and
assisted in the selection of the general contractor to construct the MART Storage and Maintenance Facility in Gardner.
The proposed facility consists of a storage area for six buses and 26 vans, maintenance bays, bus wash, office space,
waiting room and fueling area. The construction of the project is underway and progressing. Also, MRPC is assisting
MART in monitoring the construction project and attending weekly construction meetings. MART anticipates completion
of the facility by the end of 2008.
Ayer Parking Facility
Continue to work with MART and Town of Ayer to utilize the funding from Executive Office of
Transportation and Public Works (EOT-PW) to conduct an assessment and preliminary environmental study
for Ayer Commuter Rail parking facility at the Rail Trail parking lot location which may include 350 parking
spaces for commuters. Also MRPC is attending public meetings concerning the project.
Fitchburg Commuter Rail Improvement
Provided MART and the consultant McMahon Associates of Boston with GIS maps of Natural Heritage and
Endangered Species, Regional Orthographic Photo maps, wetlands and commuter parking survey in the completion
of the Alternative Analysis Report of the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line Improvement Project. Assisted with the
application submission to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to secure Federal funding of $75 million under
the Small Start Funding Program. The proposed improvements are intended to reduce travel time from Fitchburg to
Porter Square from 80 minutes to 60 minutes. The improvements consist of reinstalling double tracks from South
Acton to Ayer, replacing the signal system to convert the line to an in-cab signal system, system wide improvements
to tracks and rights-of-way to increase speeds, enhancements to master drainage program, a series of changes at
several locations to increase reliability and service frequency on the Fitchburg line.
Benefits to MRPC Communities: Member Communities will benefit from the availability of an affordable and reliable public
transportation for Montachusett area residents that do not own automobiles or that choose to be less dependent on the automobile.
Geographic Information Systems
WHAT IS GIS?
A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system capable of assembling, storing, manipulating, and
displaying geographically referenced information (i.e. spatial data). This system should include:
Hardware (computers, printers, plotters, scanners, digitizers, GPS units
Software (programs such as ArcGIS, ArcInfo, ArcView)
Data (files that may be loaded into the software programs, such as roads, parcels, aerial photographs
Qualified staff (analysts, technicians)
With a GIS, you can link information (attributes to location data, such as people to addresses, buildings to parcels, or
streets) within a network. You can then layer that information to give you a better understanding of how it all works
together. You can symbolize data in any way you choose, make calculations based on your data, and you can query
the data to answer questions.
Geographic Information Systems
HOW DOES GIS BENEFIT MRPC COMMUNITIES?
The MRPC maintains a vast warehouse of data from infrastructure, zoning, land use and open space, to color
orthophotos and USGS Topographic Quadrangle Images. We use all of this data to assist our communities with GIS
mapping and data collection in order to make better informed planning decisions. Examples of projects that the MRPC
has completed for our communities include open space and recreation plans, master plans, zoning, trail inventory, build-
out analysis, community development plans (EO418), as well as homeland security projects. The MRPC also has the
ability to maintain GIS Parcels for our communities. For our region we have completed projects such as the Hazardous
Material & Transportation Route Analysis, Predatory Lending Study, and the Regional Transportation Plan.
Currently each MRPC Member Community is allowed eight free hours of GIS Planning Assistance per calendar year that
they can use for
data collection/analysis, and
or training on a specific task.
To find out how the MRPC GIS Department can assist your community, please contact Jason Stanton at 978-345-7376 x313
In the past year the GIS
Department worked with a
variety of entities to provide
mapping support and data
analysis; from working with
regional organizations, the
Montachusett Regional Transit
Authority (MART) as well as
providing support to MRPC
staff for a variety of projects.
The GIS Department has undergone several changes in the past year. Nathalie Orlhac, an employee for the past six
years, left the commission to return to her home in France with her family. Nathalie’s expertise and warm smile will
be missed. Conversely, the MRPC is pleased to announce the addition of Renée Marion to the GIS Analyst position.
Renee is a graduate of Worcester State College and is working doing a great job at “filling Nathalie’s shoes”.
Additionally, the MRPC recently voted to make the GIS Department its’ own department separate from
As a result Jason Stanton was promoted to the role of GIS Director.
Geographic Information Systems
For communities, street mapping was a major theme of the year as requests were initiated by Ashburnham, Ayer,
Hubbardston, Lancaster, and Winchendon. Another major theme was zoning. GIS data was developed for Templeton as
part of a Smart Growth grant they received. In addition Lancaster, Westminster and Winchendon requested Zoning
Several other projects were created for a variety of communities, some of which include:
CDBG and Neighborhood Revitalization maps
Summer and Holiday Stroll maps for the city of Leominster;
Open Space and Action Plan maps were created for the Town of Clinton as part of its Open Space Update;
Ortho-photo map book was created for the Fitchburg Fire Department for use in emergency response and
A number of other multi-community and regional projects were also
created in 2007.
Flood Hazard mapping and analysis was provided to the
town of Lunenburg as part of a project with Montachusett
Regional Emergency Planning Committee (Fitchburg and
Leominster were completed in 2006).
Trail Inventory mapping and data analysis was performed for
the communities of Groton, Lancaster, Sterling and
Townsend. Meetings were held in each community to obtain
accurate information regarding the location of trails and
parking, as well as attribute information for those locations.
Equipment maps were developed for the Central Region Homeland Security Council to identify the availability,
location, and point of contact for certain pieces of heavy equipment for use in emergency situations.
The largest project (in scope) that the GIS Department has worked on this year is the Natural Hazard Pre-
Disaster Mitigation Plan. Hazard and Vulnerability Sessions were conducted on a community basis to determine
the location and severity of local hazards. These hazards were mapped through an interactive process with local
officials into the GIS and a Local Hazards Map was produced. The MRPC is currently working with MEMA to
coordinate on data sharing to assist in the Critical Facility data collection process, which is the next phase of the
The GIS Department also provided a variety of technical assistance to MART. Several projects were created including a
Series of maps showing Census 2000 demographic data as well as points of interest relative to their G-Link Bus
Route System. These maps were used to study the bus route and determine if MART is serving the correct areas.
The Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line was also studied for potential improvements. A series of maps were
developed for this project to show the location of environmentally sensitive areas relative to the commuter rail
MONTACHUSETT ENTERPRISE CENTER INC.
The Montachusett Enterprise Center, Inc. (MEC) is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization created in 2003
by the MRPC “… to alleviate socioeconomic conditions in the Montachusett Region …” The MEC is an
affiliate of the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC). Since its inception the MEC
has been working with local officials and the general public to increase the number of affordable
housing options available to families in need. MEC has been designated as a Certified Housing
Development Organization (CHDO) which will enable it to access resources available to alleviate the
affordable housing crisis.
The MEC Board Members include: President Victor Koivumaki, Vice President Vyto Andreliunas,
Treasurer James Meehan, Clerk John White, Robert Grubb, Paula Caron, Michael Padula, Bobbi Jo
Johnson, Robert Biagi, Francis Woods, Mary Olivier and Mae Beth Skidmore.
The members of the Housing Advisory Committee include: Francis Woods, Andy Taylor, Mae
Beth Skidmore, Bobbi Jo Johnson, and Robert Biagi.
MEC executed a planning contract with the Fitchburg-Leominster HOME Consortium on June 30, 2006
and identified at least two affordable housing projects to implement in Fitchburg in 2007.
Project locations, the status of each and participating funding organizations follow:
PROJECT LOCATION STATUS FUNDING ORGANIZATIONS
34 First Street /Lot 1, First Street, Acquisition, design, permitting 1. Enterprise Bank and Trust
Fitchburg and obtaining funding Company of Leominster
completed in 2007. 2. Fitchburg-Leominster HOME
Construction commenced in Consortium
August with the help of
Vocational Technical School.
Target completion date: June
Lot 2, First Street, Fitchburg Acquisition, design, and 1. Enterprise Bank and Trust
permitting completed in 2007. Company of Leominster
Financing being sought.
Construction will commence
and be completed in 2009.
195 Pequoig Avenue, Athol Acquisition, design, permitting 1. Athol-Clinton Cooperative Bank
and obtaining funding of Athol
completed in 2007 2. US Rural Development
Demolition and construction Administration (US RDA).
commenced in 2007.
Target completion date spring
1236 -1244 Water Street, Fitchburg Acquisition, design, and 1. Enterprise Bank and Trust
permitting completed in 2007. Company of Leominster
Financing being sought.
Construction will commence
and be completed in 2009.
MONTACHUSETT ENTERPRISE CENTER INC.
MEC Annual Dinner October 2007
Board of Directors
(left to right) Robert Grubb, John White, Mae Beth Skidmore, Vyto Andreliunas,
Paula Caron, James Meehan, Bob Biagi, Bobbi Jo Johnson
Housing Preservation Grant
MEC was awarded $39,266 in Housing Preservation funds. These
funds were used to assist two homeowners in Ashby and one in
Harvard. These dollars supplemented the Community Development
Block Grant (CDBG) Housing Rehabilitation funds for the new septic
systems, as well as renovation and carbon monoxide/smoke
American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI)
The American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI) is available to eligible first-time homebuyers in local
communities. Montachusett Enterprise Center, Inc. (MEC) and Twin Cities Community Development Corporation
(CDC) were awarded funds from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)
to administer the ADDI program. From this program up to $4,000 can be obtained by first time homebuyers for
down payment and closing costs assistance. All 22 cities and towns within the Montachusett Region participated in
this program. Since the year 2004, Community Development staff assisted 34 homebuyers with these funds.
Planning Assistance to Cities and Towns
Brownfields Technical Assistance; Administered the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Pages Beach;
administered the CDBG for housing rehabilitation; prepared Community Development Block Grant Application for
housing rehabilitation; managed the Septic Management Program; assisted the town with the Ashburnham Senior Center
Feasibility Study; Natural Hazard Pre-Disaster Mitigation Planning.
Brownfields Technical Assistance; administered Housing Preservation Grant; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation
Planning; Administered the CDBG for housing rehabilitation; managed the Septic Management Program.
Brownfields Technical Assistance; Conducted 10 traffic counts at various locations including 2 that were requested
by the Athol Board of Selectmen; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; MRPC met with the Town
Departments in Athol to provide an overview of Chapter 43D/Streamlined Permitting; Developed a guidebook for the
Town for Expedited Permitting.
Brownfields Technical Assistance; street mapping; GIS technical assistance and training; conducted two traffic counts at
various locations; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; Provided GIS technical assistance and training for
GIS software to the Department of Planning and Development.
Brownfields Technical Assistance - conducted a public meeting concerning the remediation of a contamination project at
184 Stone Street; conducted 3 traffic counts at various locations; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; Open
Space and Action Plan Update mapping.
Brownfields Technical Assistance; worked with the Fitchburg-Leominster HOME Consortium, through MRPC’s affiliate,
Montachusett Enterprise Center, Inc., to conduct pre-planning efforts associated with the future development on
affordable housing projects in the twin cities; Conducted 17 traffic counts at various locations; assisted in the creation of a
city-wide large format map; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning.
Conduct 12 traffic counts at various locations; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; MRPC met with the
Gardner City Council to provide information concerning the implementation of 43D/Streamlined Permitting.
43D/Streamlined Permitting; provided technical assistance to Groton on the Chapter 43D application; conducted 13
traffic counts at various locations; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; Trail Inventory Planning and
Administered Housing Rehabilitation Program; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; created Shaker Village
and Harvard Common Historic District maps.
Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; Developed an official street map for the town.
Brownfields Technical Assistance; conducted 6 traffic counts at various locations; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation
Planning Assistance to Cities and Towns
Planning; Trail Inventory Planning and Mapping; Lancaster Street Mapping; prepared CDBG Application for housing
Conducted 34 traffic counts at various locations including those requested by the Leominster Police Department; Natural
Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning.
Administered Housing Rehabilitation Program; prepared CDBG Application for housing rehabilitation; conducted 8
traffic counts requested by the Lunenburg Police Department; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; and
Flood Hazard Assistance and Mapping.
Conducted 2 traffic counts at various locations; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning, administered the
CDBG for ADA improvements in Petersham.
Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning.
Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning.
Conducted 7 traffic counts at various locations; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; Prepared CDBG grant
application for housing rehabilitation.
Administered Senior Center Feasibility Study; administered Housing Rehabilitation Program; preparation of CDBG
application for Sterling for housing rehabilitation as well as infrastructure improvements to Washacum Village;
Conducted 5 traffic counts at various locations;; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; Trail Inventory
Planning and Mapping.
Brownfields Technical Assistance; Smart Growth Technical Assistance grant proposal prepared on behalf of the Town
Grant Awarded for $20,000; zoning bylaw amendments prepared included Inclusionary Housing; GIS Zoning data
creation and mapping; Open Space Residential Design; Wind Energy Conversion Systems and multiple amendments to
definitions; Major Home Occupation and Highways Business and Commercial-Industrial–A and Commercial-Industrial –
B Allowed Uses; conducted 5 traffic counts at various locations; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning;
Conducted a public input meeting to gather suggestions on the redevelopment options for the former Holman/Temple
Prepared CDBG Application for housing rehabilitation; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; Trail Inventory
Planning and Mapping; Managed the Septic Management Program; Conducted 12 traffic counts at various locations;
Administered the CDBG for housing rehabilitation.
Conducted 2 traffic counts at various locations; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation Planning; Developed an official
zoning map for the town.
Brownfields Technical Assistance; conducted 5 traffic counts at various locations; Natural Hazard Pre-disaster Mitigation
Planning; developed an official street map for Winchendon.
Montachusett Regional Planning Commission has completed its first year enrolled in the Group Insurance
Commission. While the price of health care has skyrocketed over the past few years the increase in insurance
rates have been kept within reason under this plan. The staff members are enjoying a lower monthly premium,
while the Commission can maintain a lower monthly cost for their portion of the premiums.
With the state of Massachusetts making it mandatory for all state residents to have health insurance coverage by
June 30, 2007 or pay a fine on their tax return, these plans are a great benefit to both staff members and the
MRPC had many new grant programs in Fiscal Year 2007. The introduction of the Stream Lined Permitting
Chapter 43D funds has provided MRPC staff with necessary funds for skill advancement in this area. Fiscal
Year 2007 also provided MRPC with two new Community Development Block Grants, MEMA Pre Disaster
Mitigation, as well as many small contracts for the GIS Department.
FY’07 Operating Revenue
FY07 Operating Revenue
Federal/State Federal State $821,633
Local Contracts 340,215
Local Contracts Local Assessments 57,529
In-kind Contributions 44,420
Local Other Local Costs 299
Assessments $ 1,264,096
FY07 Operating Expense
FY07 Operating Expense
Direct Salaries $415,844 Direct Salaries
Travel 5,549 Travel
Equipment 9,854 Equipment
Consultant 166,726 Consultants
Inkind Contributions 44,420 Inkind Contributions
Loans Disbursed 25,000 Loans Disbursed
Conferences/Meetings 4,484 Conference/Meeting
Other Direct Costs 24,756 Other Direct Costs
Other Local Costs 3,751 Other Local Costs
Indirect Costs 566,766 Indirect Costs
Montachusett Regional Planning Commission
(978)345-7376 phone (978)348-2490 fax
2007 Annual Dinner Photo
(left to right)Representative Robert Rice; John White, MRPC Secretary;
James Meehan, MRPC Treasurer; Robert Grubb, MRPC Assistant
Treasurer ; Laila Michaud, former MRPC Executive Director; Bernard
Cohen, Secretary EOT; Victor Koivumaki, MRPC Chairman; Mohammed
Khan, MART Administrator; Vyto Andreliunas, MRPC Vice Chairman
(left to right)
Glenn Eaton, Executive Director
Administration Extension 310, firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Parmenter, Administrative Director
Extension 301, email@example.com
Nancy Belliveau, Fiscal Manager
Extension 308, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bobbi Jo Johnson, Fiscal/Planning Assistant
Extension 303, email@example.com
Stephanie Brow, Administrative Secretary
Extension 300, firstname.lastname@example.org
(left to right)
John Hume, Director of Planning and Development
Extension 302, email@example.com
Shelly Hatch, Director of Community Development
Extension 305, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Carabba, Regional Planner
Extension 306, email@example.com
Chantell Wead, Regional Planner
Extension 304, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Biagi, Planning Consultant
Extension 309, email@example.com
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
(left to right)
Jason Stanton, GIS Director
Extension 313, firstname.lastname@example.org
Renee Marion, GIS Analyst
Extension 314, email@example.com
(left to right)
Brad Harris, Transportation Director
Transportation Extension 311, firstname.lastname@example.org
George Kahale, Transit Director
Extension 307, email@example.com
George Snow, Transportation Planner
Extension 312, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheri Bean, Transportation Planner
Extension 315, email@example.com
Brian Doherty, Transportation Planner
Extension 316, firstname.lastname@example.org