North Adams VISION 2030

Why plan?

Plans allow communities to focus and align ideas, efforts and funding to achieve desired outcomes – the vision set out at the beginning of this process. There are different types of plans communities can develop; they can be topic based, specific to a geographic area, or are comprehensive in scope.

Most plans have a designated shelf life of 5-10 years; the city’s last comprehensive plan was created 40 years ago. After that, the city initiated and developed more topic-specific planning documents.

Why a comprehensive plan?

A comprehensive plan is the most important plan a community can make because it provides a city-wide perspective and holistic approach to addressing key issues and concerns through the integration of all topic and areas. A comprehensive plan can also provide a wide range of benefits, including facilitating investments, aligning and prioritizing activities and efforts, and organizing collaborations and partnerships. The North Adams process was designed to develop alongside the regional plan, Sustainable Berkshires, to better integrate local goals with those for the region.

The City’s comprehensive plan is called North Adams: Vision 2030 because it takes a long-term vision for the City and sets out a course on how to achieve it.

What’s in the plan?

Massachusetts General Law requires certain elements to be incorporated into a comprehensive (or master) plan, including an inventory and analysis of existing conditions, a vision statement, goals and priorities by chapter or topic, and an implementation plan.

How has North Adams Vision 2030 been developed?

The North Adams Office of Community Development contracted the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission as consultants to prepare this plan. Some of the process highlights are noted below:

  • A Steering Committee made up of the CEDAB, Planning Board representatives and community members has been meeting regularly. They review draft documents and help conduct outreach.
  • An Existing Conditions summary was put together based on census and other data, interviews and analysis. This preliminary information helped form the initial planning priorities for the project.
  • Each chapter (see Documents for drafts) involves revisiting the Existing Conditions, updating research material, and conducting additional interviews. The Steering Committee provides input on preliminary goals and actions, and then they are brought to public workshop.
  • Outreach for each chapter varies a bit, is extensive, and has included focus groups, public workshops where residents review and prioritize draft goals, policies and actions, public surveys and online postings.

What are the main themes to date?

There are three main themes which have emerged, below. Each chapter, however, has specific goal areas, policy language, and action items supporting each goal.

Main Themes

1. Strengthen and Enhance Current Assets

  • Historic Resources
  • Natural Surroundings
  • Compact Urban Form
  • Major Anchors

2. Connect and Communicate those Assets

  • Community
  • Physically – Bikepaths, Riverwalk, etc.
  • Marketing and Signage

3. Leverage it All for Economic Development

What happens once the plan is written?

The North Adams Planning Board will be the official adopting entity, though endorsement of the City Council will also be sought to achieve greater buy-in and continuity. The implementation piece of the plan will be very important, as it outlines who will take the action steps, what funding (if necessary) can support the action, and how long it will take. There will be items that can be implemented immediately, and those which will take longer, and require more funding.