LONGMEADOW — Longmeadow’s Planning and Select boards met on June 5 to review a draft of the town’s Long Range Plan, a document often known as a master plan, which lays out a municipality’s goals and targets for the next five to 10 years.

Judi Barrett of Barrett Planning Group LLC worked with consulting firm Beta Group, residents and town officials to draft a Long Range Plan for the Longmeadow with a lens on climate resiliency and climate change mitigation.

A major part of developing the plan was community engagement. Assistant Town Manager and Planning and Community Development Director Corrin Meise-Munns explained that the Long Range Plan Steering Committee consisted of about 20 people — residents and representatives from the schools, town boards and departments and other community stakeholders.

In addition to a Long Range Plan Steering Committee, there was input from the Capital Improvement Planning Process Working Group and Age-Friendly Task Force. Residents were given opportunities to voice their opinions, preferences and concerns through a community survey, focus groups and interviews and two community meetings.

Through listening to the community and the town’s boards and committees, several key challenges were identified — community health, economic development, transportation, regulatory barrier, hidden communities, capital improvements, creating an age-friendly Longmeadow and climate change preparedness.

Barrett noted, “Land use is at the heart of every master plan I’ve ever worked on.” That said, core elements of the plan addressed the other challenges and created goals for the town over the next few years. These include proactively creating a community that welcomes, engages and supports all residents; embracing and going beyond standards of sustainable design and development in land use; and addressing traffic congestion by improving walking, biking and public transit infrastructure. Environmental conservation and protection of historic resources were identified as important goals for residents. Other goals include expanding the range of housing options available in town and including more affordable housing; expanding and diversifying Longmeadow’s economy through fiscal policies; and ensuring the town’s facilities meet the town’s needs and protect public health. Resilience against climate change is woven throughout the plan, with each chapter reflecting on the town’s sustainability goals.

Barrett said it is “unusual, interesting and smart” for the town to specify that the Long Range Plan include equity and the creation of an age-friendly task force sustainability as key factors, as well as sustainability. Emily Slotnick with Beta Group commented that climate projections were considered with an eye on how changes would impact the town, who would be disproportionately affected and what policy changes can be made to “rein it in.” She added, “You guys are really standing alone in charting this course. There are no other corollaries in the state.”

Climate-specific short-term and long-term goals were identified for Longmeadow’s capital planning and municipal spending. “You guys are in a really great position right now,” Slotnick said.


A plan is only useful when it is implemented, and Barrett told the boards that they must consult the plan at the beginning of budget- and policy-setting processes. She said zoning changes often receive pushback from residents and take time to accomplish.

Select Board member Josh Levine remarked that the economic development chapter of the plan essentially said, “Good luck,” due to the built-up nature of the town. He asked Meise-Munns whether the reuse of Glenbrook Middle School was considered in the plan. Meise-Munns explained that the reuse of any particular property is too granular a level for the Long Range Plan to tackle. Instead, it will make general recommendations about reviewing parcels for reuse.

Select Board member Dan Zwirko asked why a fiscal plan was not included. Barrett said a request for one was not included in the scope of the project that was provided to Barrett Planning Group LLC. Planning Board Chair Cheryl Thibodeau said fiscal responsibility is a part of all aspects of the town, and therefore the plan.

Then-Select Board Chair Thomas Lachiusa noted that small-scale congregate housing had been successful in town and asked if the plan was nimble enough to purchase properties that come up for sale with that purpose in mind. Barrett shared that she was aware of at least one municipality that left open a request for project proposals, so that it could contract with developers quickly in similar circumstances. Levine commented that incentives, such as tax breaks, encourage people to sell land to the town, so they don’t have to compete with other buyers.

Planning Board member Walter Gunn expressed concern that the plan would be rigid and unable to be amended, leaving the town less able to pivot when needed. Barrett told him the town can choose to implement an annual assessment of the plan to review progress, what should be tackled in the year ahead and what amendments could be made to address shifting conditions and issues in the town. When Select Board member Mark Gold asked about members of the community who felt their voices had not been considered in the plan’s creation, Gunn said they would have a chance for input during the annual review.

Meise-Munns assured the boards that the recommendations in the Long Range Plan draft were not “prescriptive” or detailed in a way that forced the town to operate in a certain way.

The draft of the Long Range Plan is available at tinyurl.com/4duj36xd and was scheduled to be voted on at the June 17 Select Board meeting, after Reminder Publishing’s deadline.