By Elizabeth Roman
A survey now available for residents of Chicopee, Holyoke and South Hadley will look at quality of life issues in all three communities.
The cities and town will be working with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Coalition as well as other local organizations to use the survey results to improve everything from walkability to social activity opportunities and more, particularly for the elderly population.
“A lot of the principals at play in the age-friendly concept is building your community so that it is a great place to live for an 8-year-old and 80-year-old. Everyone else in between can generally fit in that environment,” said Patrick Beaudry, manager of public affairs for PVPC.
He said the survey is being funded by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation’s Momentum Grant program and is just the first step in getting input from residents about what their priorities are.
“This will look at everything from sidewalks and transportation to access to public buildings and also looks at bigger issues such as social isolation in the elderly population,” he said.
“We look forward to being able to discover and to pursue initiatives that will improve the livability of Chicopee and our surrounding communities,” said Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos.
Beaudry said it made sense to incorporate all three communities since most people have connections in all three places.
“Some people are born in Holyoke, but work in Chicopee or they live in South Hadley but shop in Holyoke,” he said.
South Hadley Town Manager Mike Sullivan said he is excited to partner with the Chicopee and Holyoke to increase understanding and participation in a regional approach to age-friendly and dementia-friendly communities.
“While South Hadley is proud of the progress it has made over the last three years on these initiatives, what we can do with esteemed partners like Holyoke and Chicopee is far beyond those successes,” he said.
Holyoke Mayor Alex B. Morse is also on board.
“The City of Holyoke is glad to partner up with our surrounding communities and the PVPC to better analyze and improve quality of life issues across the board,” he said.
Once the survey and public forums are completed the PVPC will publish a report that includes both the assessment findings, as well as an action plan from which communities can seek further funding to advance specific items.
“We are so excited to once again be assuming our central role of regional convener to work with these three great Valley communities, our local service providers, and the general public to assess our current efforts to meet all residents’ needs and develop the roadmap forward to address any potential holes in supports currently present," said PVPC Executive Director Tim Brennan.