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The City of Holyoke’s Conservation Commission and Parks Department are updating the City’s Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) to take stock of the City’s parklands and to receive citizen input on what the next five years of open space & recreation planning should look like in Holyoke.

“Parks belong to the community,” said Andrew B. Smith, Conservation & Sustainability Director, “and we need robust citizen involvement to make sure our planning efforts reflect the wants and needs of the City.”

To do this, the two departments are conducting a series of listening sessions around the City and hosting an online survey, in English and Spanish, to give multiple opportunities for citizen input.

“We’re trying to make this fun and easy for people this year,” said Terry Sheppard, Parks Department Director, noting that links to the Survey are going to be included in this year’s Easter egg hunt to reach a wider audience.

In addition to the opportunity to assess the current state of parkland, the benefit of having an OSRP is that it gives elected and appointed officials the opportunity to take stock of residents’ goals for parkland.  In turn, this citizen input influences priorities for the next five years and shapes which park improvement or land acquisition projects the City will pursue in future funding cycles.

“These documents foster cooperation and leadership on Open Space and Parks across all levels of government,” said Mr. Smith, noting that the 2012 planning process yielded impressive results.

Many of the goals and priorities established five years ago have been accomplished.  For example, Community Field, the Skate Park, Veterans’ Park, and Avery Park, were listed as improvement projects that should be completed between 2012-2017.  Each of these were completed in the time frame expected.  In 2012, the City also made urban reforestation a goal and committed to pursuing grant opportunities to boost downtown planting activities and establish a City Nursery. 

“It’s nice to take stock of all that has happened and remind ourselves that, oftentimes, we set goals because we believe in what we are doing and that we can affect real change,” said Mayor Alex B. Morse. “I’d like to thank Andrew and Terry for taking the lead on this project. Having input from our residents will make the world of difference in making sure the community is growing in a way that best fits our residents. I believe this survey and the forums will engage our citizens and provide our City with the information we need to build a better Holyoke.”

Anyone interested in providing input can attend the first Open Space and Recreation Planing Community forum on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at the Wistariahurst Museum (238 Cabot St) at 6:00 PM.  A second forum has been scheduled for May 24, 2017 at 6:30 PM at the Holyoke Senior Center (291 Pine St).    In addition, anyone can take the 2017 Open Space and Recreation Plan in either English ( or Spanish ( This survey will take about 10-15 minutes to complete and paper copies are available upon request.

Posted on April 12, 2017 by