Public Input on Conceptual Designs Sought for Study Areas in Chicopee and Holyoke
U.S. Forest Service Urban Tree Planting for Stormwater
Grant Funding to allow Green Design Inclusion into Planned Road Reconstruction Projects
One of PVPC’s major areas of work is reducing combined sewer overflow discharges into the Connecticut River, which is the region's most significant natural resource. Street trees planted in urban areas offer a low-cost way to address stormwater runoff into the Connecticut River, while at the same time providing more attractive neighborhood environments for walking and biking, and thus reducing car use and improving property values.
Funded by a 2015 grant from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, the Urban Tree Planting for Stormwater project sought to achieve multiple environmental benefits. The project goal was planting more street trees in Springfield, Chicopee and Holyoke to reduce combined sewer overflows and stormwater runoff into the Connecticut River. Urban trees and other green infrastructure installations divert stormwater runoff away from rivers and streams and also reduce stormwater burdens on wastewater treatment plants, where storms can cause combined sewer overflows to pour into the Connecticut River.
The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission partnered with the Cities of Springfield, Chicopee and Holyoke, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Conway School of Design. DCR contributed trees for planting, while students from the Conway School led or co-facilitated interactive public workshops to identify and design appropriate locations for the installation of street trees and green infrastructure into future road reconstruction projects.
Project partners hosted public workshops from 2016-2018 to promote green streets in the three cities as part of a three-year effort to integrate more urban trees and green infrastructure into planned city road reconstruction projects. Initial interactive workshops gave residents the opportunity to enjoy light refreshments while learning all about green streets, tree planting, care and maintenance from Dave Bloniarz, an urban forester with the U.S. Forest Service. Many residents in attendan
ce were also able to schedule free tree plantings on their property by DCR personnel, which supported the overall goal of the project.
Feedback on the project from local partners highlighted how crucial this work is for the three largest urban areas in the Pioneer Valley.
“Nuestras Raices is pleased to be a part of this project that will bring more street trees to Holyoke’s downtown neighborhoods, providing shade to pedestrians and helping to reduce stormwater pollution of the Connecticut River,” said Felix Machuca, Director of Operations at Nuestras Raices. “Making Holyoke greener will make it a more attractive place to live and visit, and we are excited that residents will have the opportunity to learn how to care for urban trees and provide input on the design of green streets for areas in downtown Holyoke.”
“Valley Opportunity Council is excited to connect Chicopee residents with the opportunity to learn about the importance of urban street trees and how to care for them in their neighborhoods,” said Steve Huntley, Executive Director of Valley Opportunity Council. “Chicopee is dealing with the very expensive task of remediating all of its combined sewer system. Increasing the amount of street trees in Chicopee will help reduce the costs of pollution and beautify neighborhoods at the same time.”
In Holyoke and Chicopee, three two-block study areas were selected based on their location in an area with combined sewer systems and planned upcoming roadwork. In Springfield, green streets landscape plans were created for the X neighborhood, where an engineering consultant was already in the process of preparing engineering plans for an infrastructure project that will be constructed by the city as part of other roadway improvements.
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The Cities of Chicopee and Holyoke and their partners – Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Valley Opportunity Council and Nuestras Raices - will be hosting a second set of public workshops to promote green streets in those communities to resume a three-year effort to integrate more urban trees and green infrastructure into planned city road reconstruction projects.
The Cities of Chicopee and Holyoke and their partners – Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Valley Opportunity Council and Nuestras Raices - will be hosting public workshops to promote green streets in those communities next week to resume a three-year effort to integrate more urban trees and green infrastructure into planned city road reconstruction projects.