Franklin’s Open Space – Voice Your Opinion!
By J.D. O’Gara
Franklin’s working on updating its Open Space & Recreation Plan, and your input is crucial!
“We are in the midst of updating Franklin’s Open Space and Recreation plan, which will outline the Town’s priorities for a variety of our recreational and environmental locations, activities and more,” says Franklin’s Conservation Agent, Breeka-Li Goodlander, a certified and professional wetlands scientist. This town plan was last updated in 2016.
A public hearing regarding the 2016 OSRP Review and Current Priorities took taken place last month and others are coming up on April 25th, from 6-8 p.m. (Goals and Objectives for the 2023 OSRP) and June 20th, from 6-8 p.m. (Draft OSRP 2023 Reviiew) at the Franklin Senior Center, 10 Daniel McCahill St.
Although the town has held focus groups with established organizations that would be invested in outdoor spaces, “organizations and established groups like Girl Scouts or the Garden Club, or the Rod and Gun Club, people or groups that utilize open space and recreation areas for the routine basis, for the function of their mission,” says Goodlander, “if any resident has questions they can give me a phone call, and I can engage with them one on one.” She encourages all residents to share their own visions of open space for the town. “We’re receiving feedback throughout the entirety of the process. The Conservation Commission is the lead, taking in and giving back feedback, and all Franklin residents are stakeholders.”
At press time, the town had held a number of themed focus groups at Town Council Chambers and on Zoom, from 6-7 p.m., such as Sports & Recreation, Municipal Recreation Facilities and Parks, School Recreation Facilities and Parks, and the newly acquired Schmidt Farm. Upcoming this month is a focus group on the Riverbend Conservation Area on March 9th, followed by one on Maple Hill on March 23rd.
“We also have more qualitative type topics,” says Goodlander, noting the state requires Franklin hold these focus groups. Upcoming topics include such topics as climate change, forest and trees, habitat protection and accessibility.
“Every comment is going to be included in the plan,” says Goodlander. “As required by the state, all written communication, all meeting minutes, are included in the plan. The state of Massachusetts will get those comments, and based on those comments, the town prioritizes projects. It helps the town understand what residents want to see for their home and then prioritize projects for the next 5-7 years.” Goodlander explains it as “a plan for plans, a guidelist or checklist for the town.”
Part of the OSRP process also includes technological components such as a flora and fauna survey, a look at Franklin’s topology and geography, environmental resources, what Goodlander calls the “earthy good stuff,” as well as an examination of Census data on Franklin’s population and its demographics.
“It’s a plan that takes the inventory of the entirety of Franklin but also its natural resources and environmental characteristics. How can we best utilize these resources for the Franklin community in conjunction with the natural environment?” says Goodlander.
Having an updated OSRP will also open Franklin up to grant funding.
“There are a handful of grants from the state that, to qualify, you need to have an OSRP,” says Goodlander. She explains, for example, that townsfolk may decide one of the priorities for Schmidt Farm could be to develop a trail system, in which case the town could apply for a Massachusetts Trail Grant.
Paper postcard versions of community surveys can be picked up at the Franklin Municipal Building, the Franklin Recreation Dept. and the Franklin Public Library, and an online version can be found at the Conservation Commission’s page on the town website (https://www.franklinma.gov/conservation) or here at https://tinyurl.com/Franklin-OSRP-Survey-2023
For updates, visit Franklinma.gov/conservation for the latest information.