LENOX -- Wanted: Thoughts from local residents on the best use of the town's open spaces -- including parks, the Laurel Lake beach and other recreational sites -- to help drive a five-year action plan to upgrade existing locations, develop new ones and conserve open land.
A survey prepared by the Open Space and Recreation Committee is part of a full-throttle effort to draw up the master plan for approval by town boards and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. Then, it would be forwarded to the Department of Conservation and Recreation in Boston for a green light.
Said committee member Ruth Wheeler, appearing before the Select Board: "We're encouraging all Lenox residents to fill this survey out whether you're a mother, a father, a grandmother, a grandfather, a kid, a teenager, a cat, a dog....
"No, I guess they can't fill it out," Wheeler laughed, referring to the popular pets.
"It's important to the town. it'll help us get state grants for open space and recreation," Wheeler added. "It's 15 questions, it's pretty easy and it goes fast."
The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
Selectman John McNinch, who chairs the Open Space and Recreation Committee, said the town cannot apply for some state grants because it doesn't have an open space plan.
"The surveys are going to help us decide the direction we want to go," he said.
A open-space public forum will take place in Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5
The survey asks residents of Lenox and Lenox Dale to check off town resources that they consider important to protect or expand. The 22 choices include the town's water supply, its watersheds (including streams, rivers and wetlands), forests, wildlife habitats, scenic undeveloped mountain ridges, and open fields and pastoral views. Other choices include the town's rural small-town character, cultural attractions, beach, clean air, dark skies and quiet environment.
The survey-takers are also be asked how often they take part in 32 recreational activities, including bicycling, skiing, hiking, fishing, hunting, baseball, basketball, football, golf, horseback riding, dirt biking and ATV riding -- and how valuable they consider the community's organized recreational programs.
Residents are asked to consider a list of 18 reasons why they choose to live in Lenox. The choices include affordability, air quality, cultural resources, job opportunities, low levels of crime, schools, water quality and wooded areas.
Finally, the questionnaire asks participants to assess a list of 14 potential town projects that they would support. The projects include building either bike trails or paths, the development of a Housatonic River walk, setting up a fenced-in dog park, and constructing new ball fields or playgrounds.
In addition to enabling the town to apply for state funding for land preservation and recreational development, the action plan would help set priorities and match local resources to the recreational needs of citizens, Town Planner Mary Albertson said. It would provide the Select Board the framework for decisions when large tracts of land become available.
The deadline for completing the printed survey, available at either the Town Hall's lobby, the Lenox Library or the Community Center, is March 5. The online version must be completed by March 12.
The survey can be accessed online at www.townoflenox. com or directly at https://www.survey
For more information, contact Albertson at either email@example.com, or (413) 637-5500, ext. 1203.