A community engagement process to look into themes such as housing, land use, the environment, transportation, and economic growth will begin on Monday, according to a statement from the city of Worcester.
It is the goal of the Worcester Now/Next program to develop a long-term strategy for projects that will have a broad impact on the entire city. The 15-month program, which began in February and will conclude in May 2023, will be completed in 15 months.
Mayor Joseph M. Petty noted in a statement that “now is the time to build on Worcester’s recent victories.” “This is an opportunity to ensure that Worcester’s position as the heart of the Commonwealth continues to prosper for future generations.”
In the initial phase of the planning process, time will be spent listening to residents, learning about their concerns, and investigating city issues. The second part of the year will be devoted to analysis, opportunities, and documentation.
Through virtual and in-person events, Worcester Now / Next hopes to build a stronger community by collaborating with residents, employers, students, small business owners, and other members of the community over the next 15 months.
In the words of Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr., “this planning endeavor is a once in a lifetime chance for us to communicate with our residents and employees.” As stated in the release, “the citywide plan will lay out a coordinated vision and strategy that will allow Worcester to continue to grow and thrive as a diverse, successful, and innovative city.”
Earlier this year, the city selected Utile, a Boston-based urban planning and design firm, to lead the development of the Worcester Now / Next master plan. Brown is in charge of economic development; HR&A is in charge of transportation planning; Nelson Nygaard is in charge of economic development. Among those in charge of open space and recreation strategy is Rowe Richardson, while Rivera Consulting is in charge of equity and involvement.
It is anticipated that the Planning & Regulatory Services Division will oversee the project, with the Planning Board assessing progress and offering assistance to the project team at critical milestones.
The city also supplied a schedule for the program, which read as follows:
Citizens are asked to participate in a citywide survey in the spring of 2022 to enable the planning team better grasp the problems and opportunities that residents are considering.
In June 2022, a public visioning workshop will be held, and people of the community are welcome to participate. The day, time, and location will be announced at a later date.
For a period of six months beginning in June and ending in August 2022, the planning team will hold listening tour stops in various areas throughout the city.
During the months of October and December 2022, the planning team will conduct a second survey to gain a deeper understanding of the community’s goals.
Community members are encouraged to attend the final public session before final report preparation begins in January 2023 in order to analyze and engage with the draft work that has been performed to date.
During the period January–March 2023, a second listening tour will be performed to engage neighborhoods in the planning process and give them an opportunity to review and engage with the work before the final report is produced.