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CDBG Task Force Minutes 10/10/09
Town of Becket
Community Development Strategy Task Force
October 10, 2009
10:00am – 12:00noon

Task Force Members:                             Berkshire Regional Planning Commission:
Rita Furlong                                    Patricia Mullins (Present)
Tony Blair                                      Thomas Matuszko (Not Present)
Stephen Labelle  (not present)                  Brian Domina (Not Present)
Madeleine Swindelhurst                          Members of the Public Present:
Sandy Sayward                                   (See Attached)
Meredyth Babcock                                
Zina Jayne                      
Karen Karlberg (not present)                    Member of Becket Select Board Present:  
Paul Campbell   (not present)                   George Fuller                   
Beth VanNess                                    William F. Cavanaugh
Joshua Lombard
Order of Business

The meeting began at 10:00 am with refreshments and informal discussion, including a brief synopsis of the CDBG Grant application process by Patricia Mullins, of BRPC.

  • Select Board Chair William Cavanaugh called the meeting to order a t 10:15am
Mr. Cavenaugh stated that this was a special hearing in which the Becket CDS Task Force would present the Draft Community Development Strategy to Becket residents and that discussion of the goals and strategies in the document was welcome.
  • Becket Town Administrator Tony Blair
Mr. Blair continued the discussion on the grant application process and described the purpose of the Slum and Blight Study that was performed on the North Becket Village target area.   He stated that the final Community Development Strategy will be updated from year to year and that other parts of Becket may be the focus of Slum and Blight studies in the future.

III.       Task Force Chair Rita Furlong

Rita Furlong described the work process engaged by the Task force and introduced the initial heading of Land Use and Growth Management, and the four main draft goals developed for that topic.

Ms. Furlong then introduced various members of the Task Force, each of whom presented one of the following topics and draft goals:
Housing; Economic Development; Transportation; Community Facilities and Health Services; Natural Resources, Open Space and Recreation; and Energy.

IV.       Town Administrator Tony Blair

Mr. Blair discussed the Municipal Community Development Priority List and ‘Next Steps” in the grant application process.  He then invited comments and questions from the audience.

V.        Open Discussion:

A lively question and answer period ensued with wide participation on the part of the assembled Becket residents and Task Force and Select Board.  During the discussion speakers identified themselves and gave addresses, and it appeared that all areas of Town were represented.   

There were no public comments on heading A: Land Use and Growth Management.

Public comments on heading B: Housing included questions on how the listed goals would be financed.  There was discussion on the formation of a local housing authority and of the possibility of coordinating with a community development corporation, such as the Hilltown CDC, to initiate and administer such programs.  The point was raised that, in either case, residents of Becket should be represented in the decision making process. There was also a comment made that the Town should promote the formation of a chapter of Habitat for Humanity in Becket.  It was decided that, although there is support for such an action, it is not within the scope of the CDS.   However, as a result of this dialog minor changes will be articulated in the 6th and 7th bullets in order to clarify the intent of those goals.

A suggestion was made that the phrase ‘including small farms’ be added to bullet 7 under the heading of               C: Economic Development.  Also under that heading, there was a comment of concern questioning whether it is in the best interest of Becket to encourage tourism, since visitors to the town sometimes wind up cutting across private property to access points of interest, and may degrade pristine conditions along trails and the river.  This led to a discussion of directing visitor activities through a system of way-finding signs and a clearly marked trail system.

During the discussion of D: Transportation, there were suggestions about posting ‘Share the Road’ signs and installation of bike racks for bicyclists.  It was also pointed out that there are resources that are unknown to many people, such as the Jacobs Ladder Trail bicycle guide, and that efforts should be made to educate the public about these existing resources.

There were no public comments on E: Community Facilities and Health Services.

Comments on F: Natural Resources, Open Space and Recreation included the long term impact of a proposed riverwalk on the Wild and Scenic designated Westfield River and the difficulty for the Town in obtaining needed easements, etc.

There were no comments on G:  Energy.

During the presentation on Section IV: Municipal Community Development Priority List the question was raised as to whether the Town could restrict availability of low to moderate income senior housing unit to Becket residents.  Town Administrator Tony Blair explained that while complete exclusion of applicants from outside Becket is not allowable, a lottery system can be established which favors a majority of Becket residents.

In general comments were supportive and encouraging, and all comments and questions were recorded for consideration by the Task Force to be incorporated, where appropriate, in changes in the final draft of the document.

VI.     Town Administrator Tony Blair

Mr. Blair stated that the Task Force would make the draft document available on the town’s website, and that residents would be invited to comment until October 19, when final edits would be made.*  
V.     Select Board Chair William Cavanaugh  

Mr. Cavanaugh expressed his appreciation to Mr. Blair, the Task Force and BRPC for all of their hard work and congratulated them on the final product.

VI.  Meeting adjourned at 12:00 noon.

*The Community Development Strategy was presented to the Select Board at the regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, October 21, 2009.  Due to the lack of quorum at the October 19 Task Force meeting, public comment had not yet been incorporated into the final draft of the CDS, and the Select Board asked that the Task Force meet one additional time to complete that work.  This meeting occurred on October 26, 2009 with a quorum of members present.  The Task Force considered and incorporated the public comments received at the October 10 meeting and voted unanimously to accept changes made.  The final document will be presented to the Becket Select Board on November 4, 2009.

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