Open Space & Recreation Planning

What is an Open Space & Recreation Plan?

An Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) is a tool through which a community plans for the conservation of its natural resources and the improvement of its recreational opportunities. The term “open space” refers to conservation land, forested land, recreation land, agricultural land, corridor parks, and similar amenities. However, the term can also refer to undeveloped land with particular conservation or recreation interest; this may include vacant lots or brownfields that have reuse or redevelopment potential.

The OSRP planning process involves extensive public engagement and allows towns to reflect on their land use patterns, set goals for the future, and develop strategies for achieving such goals. A community’s open space and recreation goals are reflected in the seven-year action plan, a requirement for all Massachusetts OSRPs. Other major sections of the OSRP include Community Setting section, an Environmental Inventory and Analysis section, and an Inventory of Lands of Conservation and Recreation Interest section. The concluding portion of the OSRP involves an Analysis of Needs section and a Goals and Objectives section that both incorporate the essential elements of the Seven-Year Action Plan.

Our Services

CMRPC is frequently a lead partner in the development of a community OSRP, including the seven-year action plan that communicates local visions and values for improving open space and recreation areas for all residents, users, and ecological functions. These plans open the door to potential grant funding for project implementation but are equally important for community conversations and involvement that CMRPC helps to facilitate as part of plan development.

Communities with an up-to-date and approved OSRP are eligible to apply for the Massachusetts Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant Program, Local Acquisition for Natural Diversity (LAND) Grant Program, Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Grant Program, and other grant programs administered by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), Division of Conservation Services (DCS). OSRPs also help to coordinate with ongoing acquisition efforts of state and environmental agencies and local and regional land trusts.

Project Highlights

Warren Open Space & Recreation Plan Update

The Town of Warren is situated mostly within the Chicopee River Watershed, with the southeastern corner of town situated within the Quaboag River Watershed. The Town has a population of 4,975 people within a total area of 27.6 miles, creating a population density of roughly 180 people per square mile. Warren’s character is influenced by its agricultural and manufacturing past, including the many textile and metalworking mills that brought families to the area in the late 19th century. Today, 4.60% of Warren’s total area is established as protected open space, including 39.70 acres of protected core habitat. So, enhancing the protection of natural resources is included as one of the Town’s goals in the 2022 Warren OSRP. Other goals incorporated into Warren’s OSRP are to increase the awareness of and access to natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources as well as to improve recreational opportunities for people of all demographics and abilities.

Barre Open Space & Recreation Plan Update

The Town of Barre is located east of the Quabbin Reservoir in north-central Worcester County. The Town, situated completely within the Chicopee River Watershed, has a hilly terrain with numerous streams that powered many small mills in the 19th century. The Town has roughly 5,530 residents within 44.6 square miles, establishing a relatively dispersed population density of 124 people per square mile. Additionally, 40.50% of the Town is protected open space, including over 3,000 acres of protected core habitat. Nonetheless, one of the goals of the 2021 Barre OSRP is to protect open space and water resources, while also increasing community awareness and involvement in open space preservation and recreation area development. Other goals detailed in this Plan include developing recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities as well as cultivating local climate resilience.

Municipalities and governmental entities are allowed to contract directly with CMRPC in accordance with MGL Chapter 30B Sections 1 (b) (3) and (b) (9). Contract with CMRPC, contact CMRPC’s Executive Director, Janet Pierce at

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