Mar 062012

On January 12, 2012, the Marblehead Selectmen authorized the formation of an Open Space and Recreation Plan Update Committee, beginning a process slated to send a draft of an updated plan to the State for review and acceptance by June 30. Having a plan no more than five years old is a requirement for submitting proposals to the State for financial support of open space and recreation improvements. This will be the fourth update of a plan first filed in 1978. The most recent plan from Marblehead was updated in 1999 and accepted by the Sate in 2001.

The Open Space and Recreation Plan represents Marblehead’s strategy to enhance and expand the existing open and recreational space and programs within the town. During planning, additional land that the town could acquire for open space and recreational purposes is identified. However, recognizing that Marblehead’s centuries of development have left little open land subject to traditional open space planning, the plan looks for ways to increase the recreational and conservation value of existing town lands, and for other means of protecting the natural resources of the community

The Marblehead Conservancy supports this planning effort. The 1999 plan, in fact, provided the guidance for all the trails, education, and acquisition activities performed by our many volunteers and supported largely by memberships over the last ten – plus years. The work of volunteers, including scout organizations, students, town employees and private organizations has been a direct response to issues identified in the last plan. But, it is time to hear once again from the residents of Marblehead on their interests for the future of open spaces and recreation.

Public input began with an open meeting in the Abbot Public Library on January 23. The gathering of interest and ideas will continue, with much of this activity taking place during February. Survey questionnaires have been mailed to interested organizations and Town Departments. Individuals wishing to speak to their use of Marblehead’s open spaces and recreational services can do so by filling out and returning a personal survey form. These forms are available at the Abbot Library, the Community Center, and Abbot Hall. Forms may be returned at these sites or dropped in the red mailboxes at Abbot Hall or the Widger Road town offices. An electronic copy of the form is also available on Marblehead’s web site home page.

In March, all of the collected information will be compiled and turned into lists of goals, objectives and action plans by the Recreation and Park Commission and the Conservation Commission. A first rough draft of the plan will then be shared with residents in an open public meeting near the end of March. April is given to finalizing a preliminary draft for a quick review by a state official. The final draft will be presented to the State by June 30.

We ask for everyone’s support in providing input to this process. – The Trustees

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