City of Worcester to launch city-wide planning process

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City of Worcester to launch city-wide planning process

For immediate release: 02/28/2022 2:39 p.m.

WORCESTER, Mass. – The City of Worcester launched a citywide planning process this month that will engage the community to explore issues such as housing, land use, environment, transportation and economic development, among other topics.

Worcester Now | Next will generate a long-term plan that brings together past, present and future initiatives spanning the entire city, from downtown to its dozens of neighborhoods. The plan will provide a coordinated roadmap for the future development and evolution of the city.

“Now is a good time to build on Worcester’s recent successes,” said Mayor Joseph M. Petty. “This is an opportunity to ensure Worcester thrives as the heart of the Commonwealth for generations to come.”

The 18-month process, which will conclude in May 2023, will be guided by equitable community engagement. The first half of the planning process will focus on listening, learning and exploring issues in Worcester, while the second half will focus on analysis, opportunities and documenting.

“This planning effort is a unique opportunity to engage with the people who live and work in Worcester, said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “The citywide plan will present a coordinated vision and strategy that will allow Worcester to continue to grow and grow as a diverse, prosperous and innovative city.

The plan will build on current and planned initiatives, integrating them with new priorities linked by a common community vision. Working closely with residents, workers, students, business owners and others, the process will go through a series of virtual and in-person events over the next 15 months, culminating in the release of Worcester Now | Next plan in May 2023.

Citywide Long Range Planning Team

The city chose Useful, a Boston-based urban planning and design firm, will lead the development of Worcester Now | Following. The Utile team also includes HR&A for economic development, Nelson Nygaard for transportation planning, BRowe Richardson for the strategy of open spaces and leisure, and Rivera Council for fairness and commitment.

Worcester Now | The next will be led by the city’s planning and regulatory services division. The Worcester Planning Committee will review progress and provide guidance to the project team through key milestones, ultimately leading to approval of the final plan document.

Together, the city and consulting team provide extensive experience, technical expertise and local knowledge to guide the development of Worcester Now | Following.

Planning calendar

Phase 1: Listen, Learn, Test

Citywide Spring Survey: March to May 2022
Community members are encouraged to participate in the citywide spring survey to help the planning team understand priority issues and opportunities in the city.

Public Vision Workshop: June 2022
Community members are encouraged to attend the first public workshop in June 2022. Details on time and location will be announced.

Summer listening tour: June-August 2022
The planning team will take audiences on tour this summer, with listening tour stops in neighborhoods around the city. The listening tour will allow citizens to engage in the planning process in their neighborhoods and communities.

Phase 2: Analyze, review, document

Citywide Fall Survey: October 2022 to December 2022
A second survey in late 2022 will help the planning team understand community priorities and serve as another point of contact for understanding city issues.

Public workshop on draft plan: January 2023
Community members are encouraged to attend the final public workshop in January 2023 to review and engage with the draft work to date, before production of the final report begins.

Winter listening tour: January-March 2023
A second Listening Tour will take place in early 2023 to engage citizens in the planning process in their neighborhoods and give them the opportunity to review and engage with the work-to-date project before the start of production of the final report.

How can I get involved?

The City invites everyone to participate in the development of the plan. The now | The next process will include a series of virtual and in-person events in 2022 and early 2023, including surveys, interactive mapping activities, focus group sessions, neighborhood meetings, public workshops, meetings advisory committees and planning board meetings.

There are three ways to get involved now, while the planning process is underway:

Step 1. Log in to the project’s digital platforms.

For updates and the latest information, visit the Worcester Now | Next city wide plan website: https://now-next.worceterma.gov/

Follow the City of Worcester social media accounts to stay in touch.

  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/TweetWorcester
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorcesterMassachusettsOfficial
  • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cityofworcester/

Step 2. Watch for the launch of the community survey this spring.

The planning team will launch a community survey this spring to learn about the issues, themes, big ideas and opportunities that exist in Worcester neighborhoods and communities.

Step 3. Spread the word! #NowNextWorcester

The more people know about this plan, the better. We want to hear from everyone — and we need your help! As the late urban planner and beloved author Jane Jacobs said, “Cities have the capacity to provide something for everyone, only because, and only when, they are created by everyone.

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Louisa R. Loomis