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Fall River Open Space Plan
VI. COMMUNITY GOALS
A. Description of Process
The recommended Goals, Objectives, and Actions included in this Plan were developed based on a wide array of sources collected over the course of the past year. The Fall River Open Space Committee reviewed all input at semi-monthly open meetings. Public input received through survey results and public input meetings, a review of past City planning documents, and interviews with affected and responsible City Departments were evaluated and combined into a comprehensive 'Plan of Action' to restore and enhance the natural and physical environment of Fall River.
On Wednesday, December 11, 1997, the Fall River Open Space Committee hosted a Community Planning Event to define the goals of the Open Space and Recreation Plan. The meeting was attended by 70 interested citizens and involved brainstorming in the five general areas of greatest interest to the Open Space and Recreation Planning effort - Environmental Concerns (Watershed Protection, Wetlands, Wildlife), Trails, Athletic Facilities, City Parks and the Scenic and Historic Sites. While this exercise generated an extensive list of concerns and recommendations from the public, each focus group identified priorities which were presented and approved by the larger group of participants.
The Committee also solicited public input from City Boards, neighborhood groups, and environmental groups through the distribution and tabulation of an Open Space and Recreation Survey. While response to the survey was limited to 120 participants, the information was used as one of many methods of gauging the public's needs andd desires.
The following seeks to summarize the major recommendations contained in previous Fall River planning documents as they relate to open space and recreation objectives.
Summary of past Fall River planning efforts relevant to Conservation and Recreation:
While this Open Space and Recreation Plan represents the City of Fall River's first ever comprehensive investigation and priority ranking of conservation and recreation needs in the City, planning documents in the past decade have highlighted various areas of need in regard to these concerns. Some of the recommendations contained in these plans have been acted upon, however, the majority remain undone and were reevaluated and often echoed in this new Open Space Plan. A review of these past recommendations have assisted the Fall River Open Space Committee in drafting new Goals and Objectives for the future of the City's greenspaces.
1993 Fall River Master Plan
In 1993, the City of Fall River completed a new Master Plan to address long-range planning concerns regarding infrastructure, education, and land use. In the process of touching on wide reaching Master Planning issues, the Plan did touch on various points relevant to Open Space and Recreation Planning efforts. The following is a summary of those recommendations:
Where feasible, all new development in the city should be connected to the city's sewer and water system. Private septic tanks and water wells should be prohibited. Private sewer and water systems should be strongly discouraged and viewed as temporary if allowed at all. Exceptions would include the Copicut area and the strip of land in the extreme southeast section of the city abutting the South Watuppa Pond.
To comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Mass Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) requirements to achieve the intended use classifications of the areas receiving water bodies (Mount Hope Bay, Taunton River, and the Quequechan River). EPA and DEP require that Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO's) be eliminated or abated to achieve water quality standards. To continue the delivery of the highest possible quality potable water which surpasses all the requirements of the "Safe Drinking Act".
The acquisition of land suitable for community services, i.e., parks, recreation facilities, schools and public safety, especially a fire station on the city's north end, should receive priority consideration. Realistically, this objective must be achieved through dedication. Although suitable land remains available, land values within the city make public acquisition difficult. Methods should be devised, as referred to earlier, to encourage developers to make suitable lands available for public use (density bonuses, design flexibility, open space provisions, etc.). Mandatory dedication should be considered only as a last resort.
Developers should be encouraged to provide ample recreational opportunities and open space within or in close proximity to residential areas. Such amenities improve overall livability of residential areas and offset the need for extensive public parks, recreation and open space investments.
Enhance the urban and natural environment of Fall River and minimize the effect of environmental hazards. Urban development has consequences for the natural and man-made environment. Growth often conflicts with the environment and objectives for economic development and environmental enhancement must be continually weighed against each other.
**Completion of an Open Space Plan must be a priority as a follow-up to this Master Plan **
Development should be designed insofar as practical to utilize natural drainage systems for stormwater management. Natural drainage systems are in most instances less costly, have less inpact on area-wide drainage problems, preserve the natural environment and provide open space amenities. Regulations should provide incentives for stormwater management techniques that utilize natural drainage and encourage environmental preservation.
Areas of unique natural importance should be preserved and enhanced. Particular attention should be placed on preserving topographic features, stream beds, heavy vegetation, prominent rock outcroppings and views.
1983 Recreation Recovery Plan & Addendum
In 1981, the City of Fall River was determined eligible to participate in the federal Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) Program and was awarded a grant to prepare a plan for the revitalization and development of the City's park and recreation facilities. Two years later, with planning assistance from the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD), an Addendum to the Recreation Recovery Plan was prepared for the City of Fall River which focused on conservation issues largely in the undeveloped East End. Both of these plans touched on many of the issues investigated by the current Open Space Committee and also assisted in the redrafting of City Goals and Objectives. Most importantly, however, the process of preparing this 1997 Open Space Plan, including an inventory and mapping of open spaces, has accomplished many of the actions recommended in the 1983 Plan. Portions of the Recommended Actions sections of the Recreation Recovery Plan and Addendum are included in the appendix.
B. Statement of Open Space and Recreation Goals
The uniqueness of the Fall River landscape lies in its greenspaces and extensive water resources. Indeed, Fall River's history is a story of water - both as the fundamental ingredient in the success of the City's early mills and more recently the acquisition of water rights and watershed lands to protect the public drinking water supply for the City's nearly 100,000 residents. Sloping to Mount Hope Bay on the west and bracketed by the Watuppa Ponds on the east, Fall River residents are never far from the enjoyment of the City's watery open spaces. They are also never far away from the expanse of the Copicut Region beyond the Watuppas. Few urban residents in late 20th century America can boast of such a close connection to undisturbed forestlands, pure water supplies and picturesque Bay sunsets as those that call Fall River home.
While fantastic open spaces are nearby, they are not a part of the average Fall River resident's view of the City. This plan seeks to restore areas, such as the central Quequechan River Valley, degraded by neglect and willful damage and incorporate them into a greenbelt that reconnects the City with its extensive natural resources and park system. Central to this greenbelt is the construction of a 7 mile bikeway connecting the South Watuppa Pond to the Taunton River waterfront. Also fundamental to this vision is the restoration and expansion of the Fall River Park System to accomodate modern recreational needs such as expanded soccer fields and the diverse physical needs of park users. These all represent important opportunities to bring open space to the people, instead of sending them off to find open space.
The City's greatest challenge and primary goal of this plan is to ensure the long-term protection of the North Watuppa and Copicut Water Supplies. The watershed lands that purify and buffer these urban drinking water supplies require the highest form of public protection - acquisition and maintenance in their natural state. The cost of conservation of these areas represent a fraction of the cost of advanced water treatment should development of these watersheds pollute Fall River's tap water. In addition to water resources protection, these lands connected to the Citywide greenbelt can provide passive recreational uses such as trail access and preserve important wildlife habitats.
GOAL 1: Increase protection of North Watuppa & Copicut water supply and East Fall River watershed lands.
GOAL 2: Expand outdoor recreational opportunities for Fall River residents.
GOAL 3: Protect natural resources and create new greenways in urban Fall River.
GOAL 4: Enhance the quality and appeal of Fall River's streetscapes.
GOAL 5: Restore Fall River's park system.
GOAL 6: Develop implementation and funding mechanisms to support open space and recreation needs.