By Amy Porter
HUNTINGTON – The Hilltown Collaborative and MassDevelopment jointly sponsored an open house on Tuesday in Stanton Hall. Members of the six Gateway communities (Russell, Huntington, Montgomery, Blandford, Chester and Middlefield) were asked to drop in anytime between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. and share their vision for the economic future of the hilltowns. Approximately thirty community members participated throughout the day.
The open house was part of an ongoing planning process funded by a Community Compact grant from the state for economic development and resource sharing between the six towns. Interactive boards were set up around the hall, inviting residents to comment on the assets and challenges of living in the hilltowns, and to share their creative ideas on tourism, business development, needed services and how to make the most of the natural resources in the area.
Representatives from Elan Planning and Design and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission also met with invited guests throughout the day, speaking about community and natural resources, and the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Following the open house, Elan will compile the suggestions that were made during the day and at previous meetings with stakeholders, and present them at another open house in the spring. The final product will be an economic development plan for the region.