GREAT BARRINGTON -- Following three years of discussion, the town’s master plan will likely receive a final review tonight.
The Planning Board and Board of Selectmen will discuss the 87-page plan -- a blueprint for development over the next decade -- at 7 p.m. during a special joint meeting at Town Hall. The plan hasn’t been updated since 1997.
The document, which was developed with members of town boards and commissions, includes sections on land and economic development, housing, agriculture, historic and cultural resources and other topics related to long-term development.
"We’ve had three years of developing the master plan and receiving public participation and now we are asking for approval," Town Planner Chris Rembold said.
The Planning Board will be asked to vote on and accept the plan. The Board of Selectmen will be presented the report for reference and to make recommendations on funding the projects.
The document outlines the Master Plan Committee’s recommendations for addressing long-term challenges.
This includes "tens of millions of dollars" in infrastructure repairs forecasted for the next two decades. Town properties in need of repair include Monument Mountain Regional High School, the wastewater treatment plant and the Bridge Street bridge. Other priorities identified in the report include accommodating the needs of an aging and declining population, the need for a high-paying job base and climate change concerns.
The plan also identifies existing strengths that should be protected, including the town’s "country atmosphere and small-town setting."
The report states this can be accomplished by promoting more farming; focusing on infill development -- creating new development on vacant or undeveloped land -- within Great Barrington and Housatonic; and developing dilapidated buildings that include the old Housatonic school, Housatonic mills and Great Barrington Fairgrounds.
The plan highlights other bold suggestions: The town is expected to become self-sufficient of electricity by 2025. The town should support the state-led effort to build out fiber-optic lines across the county, which could spur online entrepreneurship. Developing the area surrounding the Housatonic River is another one of many suggestions for promoting a vibrant town.
"[The master plan] is a way to guide policy and investment decisions so we can make wise use of limited resources," Rembold said.
A copy of the full document is available on the town website at www.townofgb.org/