Friday, November 14, 2003
101 communities seek regional solutions for growth
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) "is committed to a regional vision, regional solutions and regional problems" according to Marc Draisen, MAPC executive director. MAPC's commitment to regional representation was evidenced at an October 29 workshop which marked the inauguration of the MetroFuture project, which is expected to continue for three years. Over 400 representatives of the 101 communities in the MAPC area, including government officials, business leaders, high school students, and representatives of non-profit institutions participated in the effort to develop the framework of the project.
Standard issues, few surprises
Draisen identified five critical issues in the Boston area:
1. Housing affordability: The gap between median income and housing affordability is a major factor in providing adequate housing.
2. Open space: Sprawl is the other side of that particular issue.
3. Rate of growth: Population growth in some areas has complicated the open space and sprawl issues. Franklin, for example, has grown 30% in the last decade.
4. Transportation: Sprawl affects transportation. Draisen said the amount of time spent in traffic has increased 50% in the last decade.
5. Health insurance: This issue is one that requires both a local and a national solution.
No one disagreed that Draisen's five critical issues were critical. The 400 participants, each equipped with individual electronic keypads for instant response, formed about 50 small groups. Discussion was vigorous as the groups identified a wide range of issues and solutions. Using the keypads, workshop participants identified their top important issues as:
• access to regional transportation systems;
• quality education at all levels; and
• "a caring adult in the life of every child."
A long term project
The effort to develop a comprehensive plan for the Boston area has been some years in the making. The workshop was preceeded by a regional meeting, at Middlesex Community College on October 16 for this area. Another opportunity for input into the planning process will be an open meeting on November 17, at the Lexington Senior Center, 1425 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The planning project has a website, www.MetroFuture.org.
The Metro Future web site furnished information for this article.
© 2003 The