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2012 summer heading
Table of Contents
Story of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
Monson Center Tornado Recovery Plan
Merrick Neighborhood Plan
Home MPG Program Helps Homeowners
Sustainability Data Dashboard
Local Pavement Management
Top 100 High Crash Intersections Report
Holyoke Sidewalk Inventory
2012 CEDS Annual Report
Inaugural Leadership Pioneer Valley a Success
Regional Pavement Management
PVPC Honors Regional Leaders
School Street Area Safety Study
Joint Transportation Committee Meetings
Plan for Progress Coordinating Council Meetings
PVPC Commission Meetings
Topofpage PVPC NEWS
The Story of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
wgby-video-imageWhy was the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission created in 1962? How did it evolve and expand over the next 50 years? What individuals and organi- zations have worked together for the better- ment of this region? What has PVPC accomplished in the last half-century, and why does it matter for the future of the Pioneer Valley and its people?
We invite you to share the story of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in this video produced by WGBY,  "Intelligently Cooperating with the Future."


PVPC Helping to Develop Monson Center Tornado Recovery Plan   


Senior housing concept for former site of Harper Gymnasium, Main St., Monson. Produced by Dillon Sussman.


PVPC is working with Monson town officials and community members to develop a community plan for Monson Center. Following last year's tornado, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development provided funding to develop another chapter for the town's Master Plan tied to downtown recovery efforts. This planning process provided an opportunity to review and revise current zoning standards as part of the community rebuilding effort. A series of public forums was conducted to engage residents in discussions about methods to maintain he character and identity of the town center and to achieve the desired land use pattern. An analysis found that a majority (93%) of properties within and around Monson Center do not conform to most of the current zoning dimensional requirements. The unintended consequence: new development or redevelopment would not be able to replicate the downtown's historic character that the community wants to maintain.


This process also identified priority topics for further investigation and possible zoning bylaw/map amendments, including improvements to pedestrian connections, parking, public spaces, and the town square, which will be addressed in subsequent follow-up steps.


PVPC Contact: Larry Smith 


PVPC Teams with West Springfield for Merrick Neighborhood Plan

PVPC is assisting the City of West Springfield and its Merrick neighborhood in planning for a more vibrant future, working closely with city leaders and a community advisory group of Merrick residents and business owners. The Merrick neighborhood was one of the most severely hit in the region by the tornado of June 1, 2011, and the goal of this work is to help the neighborhood envision changes that will retain the historic character of the neighborhood and allow property owners to redevelop properties successfully. In many cases, the existing zoning of the neighborhood would not allow homes and businesses to be built as the community prefers. Today, Merrick contains many multi-family houses, along with shops on Main and Union streets, plus commercial and industrial properties.



Conceptual future street layout for Main and Union streets, Merrick Neighborhood, West Springfield. Produced by Dodson & Flinker.


The work is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development; PVPC and the City are working with Dodson & Flinker, Inc. of Ashfield. The firm has produced conceptual plans for the neighborhood that would update zoning and parking requirements to help make neighborhood streets more friendly and inviting. The next steps will include assistance in fine-tuning and adopting proposed regulations, as well as continued communication with residents and businesses.


PVPC Contact:  David Elvin 


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Home MPG Program Helps Homeowners Save Energy  

In the midst of rising fuel costs and increasing financial challenges for homeowners, qualifying residents in western Massachusetts can now take advantage of the newly launched Home MPG program. This Springfield-area pilot program offers homeowners convenient new tools for measuring and understanding energy usage in their homes, including infrared diagnostics, resources and recommendations for energy efficiency improvements, and an Energy Performance Score.


Home MPG, a program offered through some of the Mass Save sponsoring utilities, provides participating Massachusetts residents with their homes' "miles per gallon" energy performance rating. By helping residents better understand their energy use, Home MPG helps people make smart decisions about implementing home energy efficiency improvements that save energy and increase comfort. One of the cornerstones of Home MPG is the program's interactive website, a convenient online tool ( that allows homeowners to view their "energy label" and associated recommended upgrades report, provide and view customer feedback on contractors and auditors, easily and automatically obtain proposals from contractors, and access nation-leading financing and incentives for efficiency upgrades. Through the Mass Save Home Energy Services Program, eligible homeowners may receive a no-cost home energy assessment in which an energy specialist will assess their homes from attic to basement and identify where energy efficiency improvements can be made.


The Home MPG program was developed by participating utilities Columbia Gas, National Grid, and Western Mass Electric Company (WMECO); their lead vendors, Conservation Services Group (CSG) and Honeywell; and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. The program currently covers all single family homes in Belchertown, East Longmeadow, Hampden, Longmeadow, Monson, Palmer, Springfield, and Wilbraham that are eligible for home energy assessments sponsored by the Mass Save program. To learn more about Home MPG, visit


PVPC Contact:  Catherine Ratté

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Sustainability Data Dashboard Launched   

PVPC, in partnership with colleagues at the Capitol Region Council of Governments and Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency in Connecticut, has launched an interactive online dashboard of data indicators related to sustainability. The dashboard is part of the Sustainable Knowledge Corridor initiative funded by the HUD office of Sustainable Communities and features data focused on how we are doing as a region in achieving goals of living in economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable ways. See the dashboard online at


PVPC Contact: Molly Goren-Watts


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Local Pavement Management System  

2012 pavement report 

PVPC has finalized a draft pavement management report for the Town of Southampton with direct participation by local officials. PVPC staff have been carrying out pavement management activities since 1984.






PVPC Contact:  Amir Kouzehkanani   

Top 100 High Crash Intersections Report Update    

PVPC is currently updating its Top 100 High Crash Intersections Report, using the latest crash data released by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) for calendar years 2007 to 2009. PVPC also obtained crash data from local police departments in communities that were under-represented in the MassDOT database to include within the ranking system. The final report, which is anticipated to be released in the summer of 2012, will provide a list of 100 intersections in the region ranked based on an index that takes crash severity into consideration. The report will also include a summary of crash data along nine major rotaries in the region and a list of the top 25 high crash roadway segments. Additional data obtained from UMassSafe, a multidisciplinary traffic safety research program at UMass Amherst, will provide information about fatal crashes, non-motorist crashes, and safety belt usage in the region.  


PVPC Contact: Khyati Parmar  


Holyoke Sidewalk Inventory  

Under contract with the City of Holyoke, PVPC is performing a sidewalk inventory and condition assessment in parts of the downtown. In 2009, the commission conducted a pilot program that included identification of the location and condition of sidewalks in a portion of the downtown area, and is expanding on this previous work to include additional miles of sidewalk in the city.


PVPC Contact: Amir Kouzehkanani

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2012 CEDS Annual Report Available This Summer

The 2012 annual report of the Plan for Progress, the region's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), will be available in July. The CEDS report is required by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to update the 2004 Plan for Progress and report the status of ongoing economic development initiatives. The document also identifies priority rankings for eligible projects seeking federal grant assistance from the EDA during the upcoming federal fiscal year 2013, which begins October 1.


An accompanying color brochure summarizes the year's highlights and provides a detailed listing of major committed projects of regional significance, including infrastructure, transportation, redevelopment, and new construction. Both the full report and the brochure will be available online at


PVPC Contact: Lori Tanner


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Inaugural Leadership Pioneer Valley Program a Success

lpv -logo


On June 8, 2012, the inaugural class of 41 Leadership Pioneer Valley participants graduated, having completed a year-long program that included a two-day retreat, four daylong "challenge" seminars, four in-depth field experiences, and six individual team projects.

The retreat, held in October 2011, focused on self-assessment of leadership skills, an introduction to the region, and selection of team projects. The challenge days were focused on leadership skills and values such as community stewardship, ethics and accountability, cultural competency, and transforming conflict. Field experiences were held in locations around the region to introduce participants to local leaders, the diversity of the Valley, and each area's challenges, assets, and potential. Issues such as education, cultural diversity, sustainability, transportation, and the regional economy were addressed via specific local projects and initiatives. Six LPV team projects based on Plan for Progress goals and further developed by participants addressed expanding education and workforce training partnerships, retaining young people in the region, bridging racial divides, supporting entrepreneurship and small businesses, reducing youth violence, and empowering citizens to engage with local and state government.


LPV has received applications for the second program year and will announce participants later this summer. A Leadership Pioneer Valley Alumni Association has been formed to connect graduates of the program, develop additional programming and events, and mentor new participants and graduates. The second year of the program will begin in September 2012 and will be completed in June 2013, with an estimated 45-50 graduates.


PVPC Contact: Lora Wondolowski, Lori Tanner 

Regional Pavement Management 

Under contract with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, PVPC is continuing to survey and collect pavement distress information as well as update the geometric information on the region's approximately 1,400 miles of federal aid-eligible roadways. This information is used to report on the existing pavement condition of such roadways and develop roadway project priority listings based on a benefit/cost ratio.

PVPC Contact: Amir Kouzehkanani  


PVPC Honors Regional Leaders at 50th Annual Meeting  


PVPC honored these five regional leaders for their dedicated public service, responsible leadership, and unwavering support of the goals of sound planning and regional cooperation at its 50th annual meeting June 14 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke:



Congressman John Olver, U.S. Congress 1st District, Massachusetts, who has dedicated more than four decades to a career of public service at both the state and federal levels, working tirelessly and without spin or fanfare to forge and support sound planning for the valley and the more expansive western Massachusetts region and to see these plans through to successful implementation.


Judge Edward C. Peck, Jr., who demonstrated dedicated, visionary leadership a full half-century ago in his role as the "founding father" and the first chairman of the Lower Pioneer Valley Regional Planning Commission (LPVRPC), which was later renamed the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to acknowledge the 1967 expansion of the regional planning district to encompass all 43 cities and towns comprising Hampden and Hampshire counties.


Dora D. Robinson, who, in her current position as the president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Pioneer Valley, has proved to be an extraordinarily strong and able regional friend, partner, and collaborator, thereby helping PVPC not only to tackle the region's physical challenges and opportunities but also, if not more importantly, to address the human condition of our region's residents.


Carlos Vega, who tragically passed away in April after an extended battle with brain cancer, generously spent four decades serving his home community of Holyoke and the Pioneer Valley at large and was among the two dozen leaders who voluntarily came together in the early 1990s to help PVPC prepare and release the inaugural version of the Pioneer Valley Plan for Progress, our region's first-ever strategic economic plan, continuing to serve as a trustee for over a decade.


Bonnie Parsons, Historic Preservation planner at PVPC since 1991, who has been a prominent yet quiet leader in the field of historic preservation for nearly 35 years and
has worked tirelessly to assist and educate historic commissions throughout the entirety of Western Massachusetts. Bonnie, who has just retired from PVPC,
has worked hard not only to preserve buildings and landscapes but also to educate others about the importance of our history as contained in the natural and built environment around us.


School Street Area Safety Study
PVPC is in the final stages of a School Street area safety study, following a request from the City of Holyoke to study traffic operations and safety along several streets that provide access from Route 5 to the Muller Bridge connecting Holyoke and South Hadley. In Holyoke, these streets serve residential and commercial land uses. Specifically, the travel direction of School Street was further analyzed as it is used as a short cut to the Route 202 rotary in South Hadley during the peak hour. The goal of this study was to analyze existing transportation conditions and develop recommendations to improve operating conditions in this area. Currently, the report is in draft form awaiting completion of the public review and comment period.
PVPC Contacts: Josh Rickman, Amir Kouzehkanani


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Joint Transportation Committee Meetings 

July 11, August 8, September 12, 10:15 a.m. at PVPC office

Plan for Progress Coordinating Council Meetings

September 19, 8:15 a.m. at PVPC office

PVPC Commission Meetings
Executive Committee:
August 23, September 27, 4 p.m. at PVPC office


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