Table of Contents

Fall River Open Space Plan


A. Statement of Purpose

In preparing the Fall River Open Space and Recreation Plan, it was the Committee's intent to develop a document that realistically provides solutions and proactive policies that can be used by City decisision-makers and the general public over the course of the coming five years, The purpose of the Plan is to conserve Fall River's natural assets, particularly its water supply, and to improve the public's outdoor recreational opportunities and connections to greenspaces.

B. Planning Process and Public Participation

Buzzards Bay Project Planning Assistance

On January 24, 1996, the Buzzards Bay Project National Estuary Program, a unit of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, issued a Request for Proposals for Planning Assistance to all municipalities within the Buzzards Bay watershed to assist in the development of Open Space Plans. The City of Fall River responded to this request seeking assistance in preparing the City's first-ever Plan. In light of both this opportunity and the city's extensive natural resources, the Buzzards Bay Project Selection Committee enthusiastically supported offering assistance to Fall River. The majority of the city lies within the drainage area to Mount Hope Bay. However, the eastern, largely forested part of Fall River in the area around Copicut Reservoir, drain to Buzzards Bay through the Westport River System. The Buzzards Bay Project also concurrently began open space planning work with the adjacent town of Westport as well as the towns of Mattapoisett and Wareham. Heading up this effort was Bay Project Regional Planner Mark Rasmussen and Open Space Planning Intern Sarah Wilkes who worked with the Fall River Open Space Committee over the course of the next 18 months in developing this Plan.

The Fall River Open Space Committee

The Fall River Open Space Committee was appointed by Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. in June 1996. The membership covered a broad spectrum of conservation, recreation, and planning expertise from various city boards and residents. Committee meetings were held, on average, every other week through the development of the Plan in advertised open meetings, Members of the Committee were all Fall River residents and included:

Priscilla Chapman, Fall River Conservation Agent
James Hartnett, Fall River City Planner
Timothy Bennett, Fall River School Teacher & President of Green Futures
Joseph Raposa, Fall River Economic Development Commission
David Proulx, Fall River Water Board member
Arthur Deascentis, Fall River Zoning Board of Appeals and real estate attorney
Albert Lima, Concord Director of Planning & Land Management
Steven Long, Fall River Board of Assessors member
Robert Kerr, Columnist for Providence Journal-Bulletin
Steven Blanchette, Teacher at Diman Vocational High School
John Picard, Assistant to Fall River Mayor Edward Lambert


An Open Space and Recreation Questionnaire was distributed to Fall River community and neighborhood associations and to the general public in November 1996. The questionnaire was developed by the Committee and the Buzzards Bay Project and was designed to provide basic public input on both conservation and recreation issues. The questionnaire asked what recreational activities Fall River residents currently participated in and ranked their satisfaction with the quality and quantity of facilities necessary to fulfill those needs. Also, the community was asked to identify what areas, such as the city's water supply and forest lands, they felt should be protected.

In order to reach non-English speaking portions of the City's population and to include their needs and sentiments in a unified vision of Fall River, the survey was translated and made available in Portuguese. An analysis of the survey results is included in Section VII, Ananlsis of Needs.

Community Planning Event

On Wednesday, December 11, 1997, the Fall River Open Space Committee hosted a community planning event to obtain direct citizen input and define the goals of the Open Space and Recreation Plan. The meeting was held in the Fall River Room of Government Center and was attended by 70 interested citizens. Ther Committee advertised the meeting in all of the local newspapers and Cable TV media. Invitations were sent to over two dozen community and neighborhood organizations, and finally every household in the city was notified of the meeting through the Mayor's Quarterly Report. The agenda included a welcome by the Mayor's Chief of Staff and Open Space Committee member John Picard, an overview of the open space planning project by Priscilla Chapman, the Fall River Conservation Agent, and a slide show highlighting scenic open space in Fall River by another Committee member, Al Lima. The major focus of the event was to encourage input from those present in each of the areas of major interest to the development of the Open Space Plan. Led by members of the Committee, those attending the meeting were divided into five focus groups and separated to brainstrorm about the future of Open Space and recreation in Fall River. The five discussion/focus groups were:

  1. Environmental Concerns
    • Watershed Protection
    • Wetlands and Wildlife Habitat
  2. Trails
    • Bike Paths
    • Hiking, Walking, Nature Trails
  3. City Parks
    • Condition/Appearance
    • Playgrounds
    • Waterfront Access
  4. Athletic Facilities
    • Soccer
    • Baseball & Softball
    • Hockey, Skating, Rollerblading
  5. Scenic and Historic Sites

Following these group brainstorming sessions, the entire audience was reassembled and each of the five groups presented the key issues discussed in their group. This allowed those not participating in a particular group to comment and add to another group's findings. The input gathered by this event was combined with the survey results to guide the Open Space Committee's initial drafting of Goals and Objectives. A summary of the issues discussed by each of these groups is presented in Section VII, Analysis of Needs.