Planning & Sustainability supports environmental protection, open space, recreation, agriculture, and shared-use paths:
- Coordinates the implementation of the Open Space, Recreation, and Multiuse Plan, an element of the City's Sustainable Northampton Comprehensive Plan, the City’s vision and blueprint for open space, agriculture, conservation, multi-use trail, parks, and recreation needs. Sustainability and resilience includes protecting valuable habitat, restoring natural systems, and creating recreation, housing and economic development in the appropriate places while avoiding sprawl.
- Preserves conservation greenways, recreation and agricultural land. (See what we have already) and related periodic presentations to City Council (PDF). See how we can help YOU achieve your open space vision for your land.
- Supports the Agriculture Commission (see also the Keep Farming plans) to support farming and farmland preservation.
- Manages, with policy approval from the Conservation Commission, conservation greenways (e.g., see Land Use Regulations for conservation land).
- Supports the Parks and Recreation Department and Commission in creating and managing park and recreation opportunities.
- Coordinates the development of new Shared-Use (bicycle) paths, with advice from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee.
- Licenses, with Conservation Commission approval and Agriculture Commission recommendations, farmland in city conservation areas.
- Sponsors conservation limited development projects, for example the Burts Bog Greenway, permanently protecting 120 acres as open space, creating five market-rate building lots and five affordable housing lots on 2.5 acres, and a 0.9 mile shared-use bicycle path. The path will eventually run from Sandy Hill Road to the New Haven and Northampton Canal Rail Trail at Route 10/Easthampton Road.
- Help inform the public (e.g., see Making Room for Native Plants and Wildlife (PDF), a guide to Invasive Plants in the Mill River Watershed)
- Supports getting brownfields (sites with real or perceived releases of hazardous materials) into open space or active production. Successful projects include leveraging $8 million of private cleanup of the Roundhouse parking lot, assessing the former Masonic Street Fire Station so it could be converted to a restaurant and offices, assessing dozens of sites for permanent open space, and assessing Pleasant Street to allow the state highway to become a city street with lower speeds and on-street parking.
- Supports water quality improvements through wetlands standards, with the Conservation Commission, environmental cleanup projects, preservation of open space to preserve water quality, and wetlands and land restoration projects. Join us and follow water quality in the Connecticut River, Connecticut River Oxbow and the Mill River, participate in Mill River Greenway activities.
- Administer, with the Building Department, the city’s strict floodplain zoning, preventing any new buildings in most of the 500 year floodplain (the area with a 0.2% chance of flooding in any given year, although the frequency of such storms has increased with climate change), protect floodplain forest as permanently protected open space, and protect floodplain farmland with permanent agriculture preservation restrictions.
Volunteer Release Form required for volunteers doing work on city open space and adopt-a-trail programs.
See also climate resiliency and regeneration efforts.