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Organized By Discipline

Melissa_Adams_Melissa Adams - CURCA prof

Melissa Adams '22


The Role of Planning Professionals on Mitigating the Encroachment of Development on Farmland in Hampden County, Massachusetts

Productive agriculture is essential to creating and maintaining a sustainable community. At present, there are many anthropogenic threats to farmland, an important one being development. Encroaching development is a credible threat to farmers, and, by extension, the members of the community for whom they provide food. As farmland is lost, food production suffers with it. The purpose of this study is to highlight the issue of development encroaching on agricultural land in Hampden County, Massachusetts and provide some insight as to how regional planners are handling the issue. A combination of interviews and geographic information systems (GIS) was used to conduct this study. Interviews were conducted with two planning professionals in the study area during which they were asked six questions pertaining to the effect of development on farmland and food production. GIS was utilized to perform a raster analysis to determine how much land that was formerly agricultural is now developed land. Results from interviews indicate that GIS is heavily used to analyze this issue, that development pressure is high in the area, and that an effort needs to be made to preserve as much agricultural land as possible. The raster analysis indicates that a significant amount of farmland has been replaced by development over the past 20 years. This data demonstrates that farmland is at risk because of development and that planning professionals are aware and trying to mitigate. If more is not done to combat this issue, major problems will arise in the area’s food production industry.

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Lauren Carpenter '22


How to Reduce the Environmental Impacts of the Westfield State Dining Commons: Meatless Mondays

This project was created to determine if implementing “Meatless Mondays” in the Dining Commons, the central dining area of the Westfield State campus, was of interest to the members of the Westfield State community. By encouraging a meatless diet once a week, it would allow the community to explore new foods while also helping to reduce the environmental impacts of the campus. To assess the community opinion, an online survey was created and distributed to the campus, giving the community a chance to voice their opinions on the idea of establishing “Meatless Monday” in future semesters. With the results of this survey, the Dining Commons can proceed to make informed decisions and potentially reduce the environmental impacts of Westfield State moving forward.

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Margaret Leahy '23


An Analysis of Accessibility to Public Participation in Westfield, Massachusetts

The intent of this research was to determine whether there are accessibility issues that prevent residents of Westfield, Massachusetts from attending city council meetings. By identifying reasons people do not participate in city council meetings, it is possible to alter the methods of public participation that are used within the community. An online survey was created and made public in a Facebook community forum as well as distributed in local businesses in order to gather information about residents’ attendance of city council meetings and any hindrances that prevent them from participating. An interview with a former city council member was conducted in order to understand internal accessibility issues in Westfield. Upon completion of the data collection, it was concluded that there are indeed accessibility issues that prevent residents from partaking in city council meetings. Many residents are not aware of the times of meetings and/or do not feel as though the issues relevant to them will be addressed or listened to by the council. These findings suggest it is possible that there are alternative methods of public participation that better fit the needs of residents.

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Kevin O'Grady '22


Examining Institutional Response and Limitations to address Food Insecurity in Westfield, Massachusetts

The purpose of this research project was to assess institutional response to food insecurity in Westfield, Massachusetts. Objectives included identifying critical constraints of both non-profits and government entities that can be mended through planning and policy to improve the systematic response to hunger. Interviews were conducted with the director of the Westfield Food Pantry and City of Westfield Community Development department to identify what the biggest logistical and policy constraints are in allowing the food pantry to serve the community more effectively. Primary constraints to the food pantry are funding for salary and overhead expenses. Logistical issues like broken or near broken refrigeration and freezer appliances and lack of warehouse equipment hinder operations. The director of the Westfield Food Pantry Policy expressed desire to provide a more robust response to hunger through proper outreach to vulnerable populations like immigrant communities. Constraints at the city level that hinder response to food insecurity include the limited funds to disperse to a variety of agencies and restrictions on how much can be given to non-profits like the food pantry or immigrant resettlement agencies. Policy that increases the monetary amount of federal block grants that are dispersed through the city or policy that allows the city to provide grants themselves would provide resources that can better alleviate food insecurity. The Community Development department expressed concern over Covid-19 Pandemic aid ending and current inflation resulting in more Westfield residents falling into food insecurity.

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Kathleen Prescott '23


Stormwater Management in Westfield: Site Design Utilizing Green Infrastructure and Nature-Based Solutions

Due to climate change, the Northeast is projected to experience frequent storms with higher volumes of precipitation highlighting the need for greater attention to stormwater management (SWM). Green infrastructure (GI) and nature-based solutions (NBS) provide some of the most encouraging options urban and regional planners have at their disposal to deal with this. GI and NBS refer to a range of techniques that help to slow the movement of stormwater by directing it into features such as raingardens, bioswales, green roofs, porous pavements, and street trees, reducing storm drain volumes and filtering runoff. GI and NBS may also provide environmental amenities to communities and thus help to address socio-spatial inequalities and increase the quality of life in cities and towns. In this research project we assessed the state of SWM in the City of Westfield. Drawing on the city’s Stormwater Management Plan and other studies, we identified one site as particularly promising for the implementation of GI and NBS. The Boys & Girls Club of Westfield (BGCW) was identified for its high nutrient loads and extensive impervious surfaces. Additionally, this site is promising for the potential to work with community partners and to integrate aspects of environmental justice and community participation into the design process. In consultation with the BGCW leadership, we developed a series of conceptual designs for the site. It is hoped that our research will contribute to future design efforts at BGCW and greater resilience in the face of climate change for the city of Westfield.

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Amber Stearns '22


Successful Green Transportation Infrastructure Case Studies and Their Application to Westfield, MA

Green transportation infrastructure in suburban and rural America is significantly less established than green transportation in some major cities around the world. A large percentage of global emissions are a result of transportation in the United States. If global emissions are not reduced very quickly, the world is facing a climate disaster. This project analyzed three different case studies of cities and towns in Europe and the United States for their green transportation infrastructure, as well as the City of Westfield’s green transportation infrastructure. The findings from the case study analysis will be used to create a hypothetical green transportation plan for Westfield, MA. Westfield could use improved green transportation to benefit the connectivity of the town and to reduce the carbon emissions of Westfield residents and those in nearby towns.

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Brendan Walker-Davis '22


Overcoming The Struggles Associated With Implementing Solar Energy Programs At The Municipal Level

This paper explores how fully incorporated municipalities in Oregon, Vermont, & Massachusetts, ranging widely in population size, attempted to enact sustainably conscious development plans, such as solar initiatives, for their respective towns/cities & how each plan attempted to incorporate the public in the planning process. Whether that be by holding public forums, surveys or just by using media to spread the word about the proposed plan(s). It is believed that through this analysis of the varying sustainable initiatives mentioned throughout the paper, a stronger, more clear understanding of how certain approaches to implementing solar projects work in different municipalities with varying population sizes & values. This study also attempts to portray how certain methods used by these municipalities to push these projects fared in terms of how effective the projects were in garnering public support & participation. Specifically, through this study, the hope is to find & compile effective ways of garnering support for green initiative programs that municipalities can look to & put into practice after filtering through the options & determining which methods they could tailor to their respective communities. The idea is that municipalities that do not yet have a department dedicated to sustainable practices & may be unsure of where to begin or even municipalities that do have a vision in mind for the community but are unsure of how to increase public support for their program can look to this study & have a wide variety of options that can be applied to their respective communities.

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