Seekonk’s Open Space Plan Organizers Seek Public Input
Fewer than a handful of town residents attended a meeting last month to hear about Seekonk’s Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP). Presented by a working group of Town employees including Conservation Agent Jennifer Miller, Town Planner John J. Aubin III, Recreation Director John Pozzi as well as representatives from the Seekonk Land Conservation Trust and Community Preservation Committee, the meeting at the Senior Center was one in a series of public outreach sessions designed to seek input from residents as well as to keep them abreast of the progress of the plan.
According to Aubin, the OSRP will be the town’s guiding document for the future acquisition, protection, development, and management of Seekonk’s open space and recreation assets and programs as well as a crucial element of the Town’s Master Plan, which is in the process of being updated.
The process to develop the OSRP has been thorough. The first task was to gather information, including conducting an inventory of existing facilities and programs and forecasting future needs. An analysis of future development patterns in town was integral to this step.
Next was to survey Town residents for input. A link to the survey was available via several Town webpages and social media. Ten questions assessing current and future needs of Seekonk’s residents were asked, with 536 responding. Conservation Agent Miller is satisfied with the response rate, although she would have been happier with an even higher number.
The group also sought to gather involvement from Town residents by hosting an information session over the summer and more recently an open house at Town Hall.
Another task has been to identify opportunities for future acquisition as well as potential funding sources (and matching funding) to support implementation of the plan. In other words, does Seekonk have enough recreation facilities to support the needs of residents? And what about in the future? Is there any space in town left to build more athletics fields or trails? If not, are there privately held spaces that the Town could acquire? And how would we pay for it?
One of the goals of the OSRP is to maintain and upgrade current recreation facilities and open spaces. All agreed that Seekonk needs to put more infrastructure in place to take care of, and improve the various fields and trails that the Town now has before building any more trails and fields. Miller would like to see a partnership be put in place whereby other groups are involved in the stewardship of the areas. As part of this effort, the OSRP will include a management plan addressing site specific issues for each facility. The group hopes to identify and support major maintenance and capital needs of the Town’s active recreation areas.
Once the Open Space and Recreation Plan is complete, probably over this coming winter said Aubin, the plan will be used to support decisions made by Seekonk’s boards and committees.