Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Plans for downtown improvements in South Deerfield move forward

— The South Deerfield Complete Streets and Downtown Livability Plan is one of four projects designed to enhance economic development and transportation and safety across Franklin County.

Throughout the next year, changes may pop up across the county’s four largest towns — Deerfield, Greenfield, Montague and Orange — as these municipalities implement sustainable improvement projects.

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments is the mastermind behind the projects that will unfold.

In 2010, the FRCOG became one of 45 groups nationwide to receive a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It received $425,000 to implement a regional planning grant program.

Partners in receiving the grant include Community Action, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, North Quabbin Community Coalition, Franklin County Community Development Corp., Greenfield, Montague, Orange and Deerfield.

To receive the grant, the FRCOG had to include the four largest towns.

FRCOG Transportation and Land Use Planner, Megan Rhodes, said the FRCOG reached out to other Franklin County towns, but none other than the larger towns expressed interest.

Each of the four towns receive part of the grant to start local housing, transportation and economic development plans. Deerfield, Greenfield and Montague each received $40,000. Orange received $30,000. Each town added its own matching grant. Deerfield identified the walking and driving conditions in the South Deerfield Village center as its need.

The goal for the multi-year FRCOG project includes understanding issues impacting the region and creating a vision for sustainable development and redevelopment to guide future growth. The FRCOG also hopes to understand the needs of disadvantaged populations and impediments to accessing affordable housing, transportation and living wage jobs. It will also identify housing, transportation, economic development, energy conservation, natural resource protection, and infrastructure needs and priorities.

In September, the FRCOG and its partners began to gather public input about what residents want Franklin County to look like in 20 years. The FRCOG is currently drafting its plan for the county.

A public outreach process will occur in January 2013 to obtain input on the draft plan.

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