By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — For the first time since 2003, the town is about to embark on the creation of a new Master Plan. Economic Development Director Erin Kokinda met with the Town Council this week to discuss the process.
A Master Plan is a strategic framework that guides the town’s future physical and economic development based on the community’s vision and goals. The Vision 2030 project, which will wrap up this fall, will serve as the foundation during the in-depth Master Plan process, Kokinda said. According to the town’s web site, Vision 2030 is a collective process where the community can “imagine the future,” covering topics from public infrastructure and historic preservation to environmental resiliency and educational opportunities.
The new Master Plan, which will be done under the purview of the Planning Board, will provide a roadmap of goals, strategies and recommendations for the next ten years.
According to Kokinda, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) has been engaged to lead the project. MAPC led the Vision 2030 initiative and now has a solid understanding of Wakefield, its history, vision and values, Kokinda said.
The new Master Plan will cover topics such as land use and zoning; housing; transportation and circulation; open space and recreation; historic and cultural resources; public facilities, town services and infrastructure; sustainability and climate; and economic development.
The process will begin with the creation of an Advisory Group of 20-25 members representing diverse perspectives. Residents of all ages, owners and employees of Wakefield-based businesses, neighborhood and community leaders, faith community members and representatives of local non-profits will be sought to serve on the Advisory Group. There will be four to five advisory group meetings throughout the project.
The Master Plan process will create opportunities for a range of skills, including strategic analysis, document review and editing, community outreach and engagement and survey creation.
The process will engage the community through four public workshops throughout the project. Public feedback and input will be sought via surveys and other engagement at Town Meetings or events, as determined by the Advisory Group.
Drafts of the new Master Plan will then be developed and presented to Town Council, likely in January 2023.
Applications to serve on the Advisory Group are online at wakefield.ma.us/master-plan. Paper copies are available in Town Hall (front entrance), at the Senior Center and at Beebe Library until Oct. 15.
The Planning Board will review nominations and make selections at their Oct. 26 meeting. The first Advisory Group meeting will be held in December. The first public workshop will be held in January.
Town Councilor Edward Dombroski maintained that since townspeople seem to be concerned about overdevelopment, the housing component should be dealt with more immediately.
But Councilor Jonathan Chines opposed taking up housing separately, noting that housing and all other aspects of the Master Plan were all intertwined.
Dombroski observed that the Master Plan takes the long view, looking a decade or more ahead. By then, he maintained, the complexion of the town could be completely altered by overdevelopment.
The concerns in the community regarding overdevelopment were reflected in another agenda item on this week’s Town Council agenda.
The board discussed a “Housing Forum” scheduled for Oct. 7. Kokinda said that she had seen similar presentations in other towns and thought Wakefield could benefit from such a forum.
The forum will not be a referendum on specific housing projects, but rather a discussion of the processes involved in creating housing, including zoning, traffic, density, impact on schools, etc.
Town Councilor Stephen P. Maio said that Town Moderator William Carroll has agreed to moderate the forum.
Town Councilor Anne Danehy said that the forum would be a good way to help people understand how the the zoning process works and the ways that they can have an impact on that process.
The Oct. 7 Housing Forum will be held via Zoom to avoid any COVID issues.