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Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

Regional Reporter

Spring 2011
Table of Contents
Events, Conferences, and More
Tim Brennan Receives Award
49th Annual Meeting
Leadership Pioneer Valley Names Director
Get Your Trail Map
Green Measures Up for Vote
"I Need My Car"
Bike Week is Coming
Wilbraham's Cultural Resources Go Digital
Block Grant Program Serves Region
New Regional National Register Listings
EPA Brownfields Funding
Loan Program
New Look for Historic District Design Standards
Joint Transportation Committee Meetings
Plan for Progress Coordinating Council Meetings
PVPC Commission Meetings

Events, Conferences, and More 


lean gov puzzle heading II Forum: "Examining the Municipal Merits of Lean Government" 

April 8 at PVPC

9:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.


This regional forum will examine how lean government practices can increase local government capacity and services while reducing costs. Special guest:  

Harry W. Kenworthy, Principal QPIC, LLC Consulting.

Please pre-register with PVPC's Indrani Gallagher at (413) 781-6045 or


NEW! Brown Bag Lunch Program


PVPC's new Brown Bag Lunches will be held every Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. and will cover a wide range of planning-related topics. PVPC staff and others are invited to attend.The fourth Thursday of every month will feature invited speakers. Scheduled Brown Bag Lunches will include discussions about bicycle commuting, rail transit, public transit, and traffic calming, while invited speakers will focus on Springfield planning issues. Visit for a full schedule of topics and speakers. And remember to bring a lunch!


April 28: The Northampton Traffic Calming Program, Laura Hanson, Transportation Engineer, Northampton Department of Public Works

May 26: Focus on Springfield: Economic Development, John Judge, Chief Development Officer, Springfield Office of Planning and Economic Development

June 23: Focus on Springfield: New Proposed Zoning Ordinance, Scott Hanson, Principal Planner, with Philip Dromey, Deputy Director of Planning, Springfield Office of Planning and Economic Development


PVPC Contact: Danielle McKahn


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PVPC's Tim Brennan Receives Award

Tim Brennan, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, was recently honored by BusinessWest Magazine as one of its annual Difference Makers.


Brennan was chosen for the sum of more than 35 years of work with PVPC, the last 30 as executive director. Over that time, he has coordinated a number of initiatives, from bikepath projects to cleanup of the Connecticut River; from efforts to bring high-speed rail to the region to the Plan for Progress, the economic development plan for the Pioneer Valley, which has been updated and revised since its 1994 inception.


The Difference Makers program was established by BusinessWest Magazine in 2009 to recognize individuals and groups that are making a difference in the western Massachusetts region. This year, Brennan joined fellow honorees Lucia (Lucy) Giuggio-Carvalho, founder of Rays of Hope; Don Kozera, president of Human Resources Unlimited; Robert Perry, retired partner/consultant with Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; and Anthony Scott, police chief for the city of Holyoke for demonstrating the many ways in which individuals can make a difference in the region.


According to BusinessWest Magazine, the 2011 honorees will continue work started by the initial classes of winners as part of an initiative called Project Literacy, an effort designed to focus attention on the broad issue of literacy and to direct energy and imagination to specific projects to address this critical issue.

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49th Annual Meeting Scheduled for June 9 

PVPC's 2011 Annual Meeting will be held Thursday, June 9 at the Museum of Springfield History. Featured speaker will be Guy McLain, director of the museum, who will discuss the wealth of Pioneer Valley innovations during the 20th century. The meeting will also salute the 375th anniversary of Springfield this year.


PVPC Contact: Ashley Shea 


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Leadership Pioneer Valley Names Director 

Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV), a new regional leadership program for the 69 communities and three counties (Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin) that comprise the Pioneer Valley, has hired a full-time Program Director, Lora Wondolowski, who brings some 20 years experience in coalition building and a passion for community empowerment. A Greenfield resident, Lora will work with the established LPV Steering Committee to bring the program to launch this fall. An advanced leadership development program housed within the Pioneer Valley Regional Ventures Center, Inc., the companion nonprofit of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, LPV was formed in 2010 to fill a critical need for an emerging leaders development program encompassing the entire region and representing the region's diverse populations. Drawing from a key goal of the Plan for Progress, the region's economic development plan, LPV's mission is to identify, develop, and connect diverse leaders to strengthen the region. This will be accomplished through dynamic educational and civic engagement programs that foster the skills, collaboration, and commitment needed to build a vibrant and culturally competent Pioneer Valley.


PVPC Contact: Lori Tanner

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Get Your Trail Map and Take a Hike  

Hike and Bike trail map cover

PVPC's new publication, "Pioneer Valley Trails: A Hiking and Biking Guide," is now available for sale at regional bookstores and outdoor recreation retailers. This publication includes a regional trails map showing the locations of all hiking and biking trails open to the public in Hampden and Hampshire counties, and a narrative trail guide describing each trail system shown on the map. 


This map is designed to encourage residents and visitors alike to get outdoors and experience the incredible opportunities for recreation, exercise, and enjoying nature on the area's beautiful hiking and bicycling trails. The Pioneer Valley region has an extraordinary bounty of natural beauty-and trail systems designed to help the public enjoy it. From the New England National Scenic Trail to the Connecticut Riverwalk and Bikeway to the Norwottuck Trail to the Westfield National Scenic River, there are outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation here.


The map can be purchased at Adventure Outfitters in Hadley; Broadside Books, Don Gleason Camper's Supply, and Booklink Booksellers in Northampton; Amherst Books and Food for Thought Books in Amherst; New Horizons Sports in Westfield; Colorado Ski and Bike Shop in West Springfield; and other retailers around the region.


PVPC Contact: Chris Curtis 


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Green Measures Up for Vote at Spring Town Meetings 

Residents in several Pioneer Valley towns will have the opportunity to vote at their upcoming town meetings for two measures that will help their communities go green. One measure will allow for as-of-right siting of large solar photovoltaic panels, while the other will implement a flexible, energy efficient building code known as the stretch code. Both measures are part of broader efforts in Agawam, Blandford, Chesterfield, Granby, Holland, Middlefield, Monson, Montgomery, Plainfield, Southwick, and Williamsburg to become green communities.


Large-scale solar arrays can provide communities with benefits such as additional property tax revenue, new income streams to residents, and some displacement of regionally-created air pollution. Last year, Becket and Monson adopted such bylaws, assuring that these renewable energy systems are properly designed, sited, and installed to promote safety, to minimize environmental and noise impacts, and to protect building and property values.


The stretch code provides municipalities with a highly efficient and readily available alternative to the base code, which is based on performance rather than prescribing specific measures to homeowners. Sixty-four Massachusetts municipalities have already cut their future energy needs by adopting the stretch code, including 20 in western Massachusetts, such as Beckett, Leverett, Rowe, Montague, and Hatfield.


If you are interested in these measures, be aware of upcoming public hearings and be sure to vote for these measures at your yearly town meeting.


PVPC Contact:Catherine Ratté

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"I Need My Car"

More than four of five drivers in the Pioneer Valley drive themselves to work, according to recent U.S. Census data. To help the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority reach out to more people who might be able to take public transportation, PVPC's Transit and Transportation staff surveyed hundreds of non-transit users. The most common reason people don't ride the bus? "I need my car during the day." Surprisingly, more than one-third of all non-riders (36 percent, or about 60,000 people in the region) said it would be possible for them to use PVTA for their most frequent trips, and nearly half of all non-riders live within walking distance of a bus stop. About 83 percent of non-riders knew that PVTA was the local bus company, but only 10 percent knew the correct fare. (In case you didn't know, it's $1.25 per ride; transfers are an extra 25 cents.)


PVPC Contact: David Elvin

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Bay State Bike Week is Coming in May

Bay State Bike Week in the Pioneer Valley (formerly known as Pioneer Valley Bike Commute Week) will be held May 14-20. Organized by PVPC, MassDOT, MassBike, community volunteers, and area organizations, this week-long series of events encourages commuting by bicycle, promotes exercise, and raises the visibility of bicyclists just as the warmer weather of spring brings the start of the outdoor recreation season.


Bike events during May are well established in the Pioneer Valley. The name Bike Commute Week has been changed to Bay State Bike Week to reflect the closer collaboration with events and organizations across Massachusetts. Attendance at events in 2010 reached a new record of 1,213 people; this year, approximately 40 events are planned in 18 communities. Agawam, Amherst, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Easthampton, Gill, Greenfield, Hadley, Holyoke, Northampton, Southampton, Southwick, South Deerfield, Springfield, Sunderland, Westfield, West Springfield, and Williamsburg are scheduled to hold an array of events, including races, rides, breakfasts, festivals, art shows, and lectures. For more information, visit


PVPC Contact: Brian Markey

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Wilbraham's Cultural Resource Inventory Goes Digital 

The Wilbraham Historical Commission has made a leap forward in recording its historic resource inventory by using Community Preservation Act funding to create more than 160 new inventory forms in digital format. Over the past two years, PVPC has created the new forms using digital maps and photographs and preparing the architectural descriptions and historic narratives using the Massachusetts Historical Commission forms. With the inventory in this format, the Wilbraham Historical Commission will be able to make quick reference to properties for their historic and architectural significance, and can put the forms online for residents who would like to know more about their historic town for school and home projects. In this format, the Commission can also use the inventory forms to create walking tours, articles, and maps to make their historic resources better known. The forms completed include workers' housing, farmsteads, cemeteries, municipal buildings, monuments, and homes of a range of dates and styles.


PVPC Contacts: Jayne Bernhard-Armington, Bonnie Parsons

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Block Grant Program Serves Region's Smaller Communities 

HUD's Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) is well known for providing annual assistance to the area's cities such as Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke. However, PVPC's Community Development section remains active helping the region's smaller communities to obtain CDBG funds through the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). In the 2010 federal fiscal year, DHCD offered approximately $30 million dollars to small cities and towns through a competitive grant application process. Awards were made to over 30 communities statewide that demonstrated community need and support for projects that were feasible and would have a positive impact within a target area or target population. Funded projects among others included housing rehabilitation, neighborhood infrastructure projects, and public social services.


Area PVPC-assisted communities receiving FY 2010 awards include Ware, Warren, Holland, Chester, and Southampton. PVPC's Community Development section provides grant management support to these communities. Other area communities currently receiving Massachusetts CDBG assistance with PVPC support include Hardwick, Monson, Blandford, Brimfield, Huntington, Middlefield, Montgomery, and Russell. Several new grant applications were recently submitted under the FY 2011 program and are currently being reviewed by DHCD. 


PVPC Contact: Christopher Dunphy

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Homeland Security Projects Underway

PVPC is assisting The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council with three projects that will create improvements in emergency evacuation routes, emergency shelter strategies, and emergency shelter equipment. The evacuation planning process will develop useable documents that allow first responders to keep citizens safe and secure during an emergency evacuation. Developing a shelter planning guide ensures that all shelters are run in the most efficient and safe manner possible to conserve financial resources and protect residents during emergency situations. The shelter equipment project will develop useable agreements between multiple agencies to share resources and equipment before, during, and after emergencies. These agreements will save money for the agencies and increase available support to resident during emergencies.


PVPC Contact: Brian Markey


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New Regional National Register Listings

PVPC has recently been notified that two of its nominations to the National Register of Historic Places have been successfully recognized and listed for their local significance. In Buckland, the ca. 1775 Wilder Homestead, well known for its saltbox profile by travelers along Route 112, was recently listed. The farm was in the Wilder family for five generations and includes its English-style barn and surrounding land as part of the historical property.Moved buildings are not often put on the National Register, so the 19th century shoe shop on the property-the last of its kind in Buckland-that was moved to the site in 1991 was documented structurally and photographically to be added later to the Register listing. 


In Lee, the 1893 Lee Railroad Station, also known as the restaurant Sullivan Station, was listed on the National Register. It is one of the last of the Housatonic Railroad stations to be in active use and has had a long and colorful history in the town, carrying Great Estate owners, marble from local quarries to build the Capitol wings and to furnish nine thousand gravestones for the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D. C., and even a few U.S. Presidents in and out of the Berkshires. Both of these new listings to the Register are now eligible for grants from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund program from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.


PVPC Contact: Bonnie Parsons


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Regional Organic Waste Study Completed

PVPC has completed its evaluation of the costs and benefits of increasing food waste composting infrastructure in the central Pioneer Valley, an area defined to include Amherst, Belchertown, Easthampton, Granby, Hadley, Hatfield, Northampton, South Hadley, Southampton, and the Hampshire County Hilltowns of Chesterfield, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington.


This effort quantified and characterized food waste being generated in the region, estimated the proportion of food waste currently collected for composting, and identified costs and potential sources of revenue associated with additional food waste composting.


PVPC also reviewed organic waste management programs to determine desirable characteristics of regional programs, characteristics that contribute to program failure or instability, and the potential utility of and roles for a regional organic waste management services program. The full report, which can be viewed at, includes a discussion of how regional efforts can help augment composting in the region.


This study was funded by a grant provided by through the Massachusetts District Local Technical Assistance Fund.


The initial study has led to continued efforts to augment composting and develop composting system capacity in the Pioneer Valley. In collaboration with the Center for Ecological Technology, PVPC was recently awarded a $30,000 Sustainable Materials Recovery Program Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to establish a matchmaking service for composting facilities and organic waste generators in the Pioneer Valley. This project will identify large un-served food waste generators in the region, recruit those who are interested in diverting organic waste for composting, work to match these waste generators with appropriate haulers and composting facilities, and provide technical assistance to these generators to help establish their on-site food waste diversion systems. Smaller generators, as well as municipal diversion efforts and small-scale farm-based composting, will also receive technical assistance as requested and as funding allows. Regional food waste diversion will be mapped in order to help haulers improve the density of their routes and to provide information about the best possible locations for permanent or mobile food waste processing units.


PVPC Contact: Danielle McKahn


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EPA Brownfields Funding Makes an Impact Throughout the Region 

The U.S. EPA defines "brownfields" as real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. PVPC is committed to seeking resources and finding solutions directed towards the removal and remediation of brownfields in the Pioneer Valley. 


Currently, PVPC operates a revolving loan fund (RLF) which offers grants and/or low-interest loans to eligible parties interested in cleaning up contaminated sites for economic development or open space purposes. Although a limited amount of funds is currently available for this purpose, PVPC continues to pursue additional funds as they become available. The City of Springfield is currently using these funds, along with other sources, to clean up the former Asylum building at 1592 Main Street. The City has recently cleaned up the site and plans to raze a portion of the building this summer, creating open space in support of other area economic development initiatives.


PVPC is also the recipient of an EPA grant that will plan for brownfields redevelopment in the West End of downtown Chicopee. Planning assistance under this grant will enable the City and PVPC to reduce threats to health and the environment and to protect sensitive populations. The planning will also help to prioritize individual brownfields based on contaminant risk, re-use need/potential, and public preference. Infrastructure analysis, market studies, outreach, and funding strategies will also be part of the project.  


PVPC Contact: Andrew Loew


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Loan Program Provides Home Modification Assistance

PVPC administers the Home Modification Loan Program in all of Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties (except for Agawam, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, Springfield, West Springfield, and Westfield, where the program is administered by HAP, Inc. of Springfield). This program makes loans of up to $30,000 to finance modifications to the dwellings of handicapped or frail persons of all ages, provided a medical professional familiar with their limitations certifies the need for them. The loan application process is straightforward and relies on the borrower to solicit firm quotes from the trades needed to accomplish the work. Each contractor or sub-contractor must show proof of vehicle, workers' compensation, and general liability insurance, and must have current licenses for the appropriate trade. Most borrowers qualify for zero percent loans with no payment due until the property is sold or title is otherwise transferred. Together, HAP and PVPC make nearly 50 home modification loans annually. 


PVPC Contacts: Laurel Foley, Paul Bracciotti

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New Look for Northampton's Elm Street Historic District Design Standards

Property owners in Northampton's local historic district on Elm Street have a revised and newly illustrated book of design standards to consult when they are planning work on their historic buildings or would like to learn more about the local historic district as a whole. PVPC, working with the Elm Street Historic District Commission and the Northampton Office of Planning and Development, updated the text of the previous design standards with historic and current photographs of buildings from the Georgian through the American International and Contemporary styles. Using the booklet, one can follow much of the history of Elm Street, identify its architectural styles, look at examples of its characteristic features, consult a glossary of architectural terms, and learn some "dos and don'ts" about treating historic buildings. The revised guidelines are available in printed form and on the City's website at under "Codes and Regulations."  The project was funded through the Community Preservation Act. 


PVPC Contact: Bonnie Parsons


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Joint Transportation Committee Meetings

Apr. 13, May 11, June 8 

10:15 a.m. at PVPC office

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Plan for Progress Coordinating Council Meetings

Apr. 20, May 18, June 22 

8:15 a.m. at PVPC office

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PVPC Commission Meetings
Commission: Apr 14, 5:30 p.m. at Clarion Hotel, Northampton
Annual Meeting June 9, 6:00 p.m. at Museum of Springfield History

Executive Committee:

Apr. 28, May 26, June 30 

4 p.m. at PVPC office

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Pioneer Valley Planning Commission | 60 Congress Street | Floor 1 | Springfield | MA | 01104