Open Space

The Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) is a document developed by residents and city officials to inventory and assess the condition of open space, natural resources, parks, and other recreation facilities in the City of Chicopee. Based on this assessment of conditions as well as input from the community, a set of goals and objectives were developed to outline a version for the community relative to its parks and other open spaces typically every seven years. However, the last OSRP for Chicopee had been completed in 2007.

An Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) serves as a blueprint for action for open space and recreation decision-makers in a community including the following entities:

  • Conservation Commission
  • Parks Commission
  • Cemetery Commission
  • Planning Board
  • Local Citizens

What is Open Space?

  • Conservation Land
  • Forest Land
  • Agricultural Land
  • Parks
  • Green buffers along roadways
  • Undeveloped land with particular conservation or recreation interest, including vacant lots and brownfields that can be redeveloped.

Why write an OSRP?

  • Integrates many sources of data into one comprehensive picture of a community's natural resources
  • Educates residents about conservation and recreation issues and increases awareness of local resouces
  • Identifies actions that will protect and manage community's resouces

A current OSRP allows the City to be eligible for state funding for park land improvements and land conservation. Typically in the form of grants, these funding sources are allocated to communities that have undergone planning to determine how the community needs can best be met using comprehensive programs and investments to address multiple objectives.

Crucial to implementation of the City’s vision is the need for residents and city officials to be engaged in the various stages of planning and informed about the opportunities a network of parks and open space offers in support of the Cities’ other community and economic development goals. Furthermore, citizen participation ensures that staff keeps in touch with changing perceptions and needs of the community. In March of 2015, the City launched an intensive public outreach campaign to gather community feedback about Chicopee’s open space, recreational needs, priorities as well as to assess the types of strategies residents would support.

Based on the analysis of needs presented in the most recent OSRP, a seven-year action plan has been developed for the City of Chicopee. Actions are tasks to be implemented during the seven-year period to achieve the goals for one or more of the objectives for which they are identified under. Chicopee’s goals for open space and recreation have not changed dramatically since the 2007 OSRP was completed.

Goal 1 - Recreational needs of all residents are met regardless of age, race, sex or ability. Actions required to meet this goal include, but are not limited to the following actions:
  • Continue the reuse planning and development of the River Mills site for terraced playing fields, senior housing, small businesses, and a gymnasium facility
  • New pool construction
  • Improve internet connection for residents, including new City website with responsive design and on-line program registration
  • Improve management of public gardens; stormwater management areas including library grounds, Council of Aging grounds, linear parks and decorative islands
  • Seek ADA compliance at all City facilities
  • Expand summer programming for parents needing child care
  • Assess existing programs for youth with special needs, and developing/expanding programming as identified
Goal 2 - Citizens are aware of Chicopees' natural, cultural, and historic resouces as well as informed about their value to the community. Actions required to meet this goal include, but are not limited to the following actions:
  • Develop a wider range of program offerings
  • Increase partnership with non-profits including the Boys & Girls Club
  • Increase opportunities for community celebrations and events
  • Establish a social media platform to inform the community of public events, programs and opportunities for involvement
Goal 3 - The Connecticut and Chicopee Rivers are protected for their open space value and well-utilized as a recreational resource. Actions required to meet this goal include, but are not limited to the following actions:
  • Continue design and construction for the Chicopee RiverWalk Phase II
  • Develop the Hampden Steam Plant and Delta Park as recreational destinations
  • Continue participation in Connecticut River Cleanup Committee and Stormwater Committee
  • Seek implementation of West End Brownfield Area-Wide Plan
Goal 4 - The ecological integrity of welands, watersheds, existing and potential aquifers, groundwater recharge areas, ponds, streams and floodplains are protected. Actions required to meet this goal include, but are not limited to the following actions:
  • Design and construct trails behid Bellamy School and Roberts Pond
  • Preserve farmland and other open space resources with local, state, private and non-profit partners
  • Continue to advance design and contruction of Combined Sewer Flow (CSO) abatement projects, including the use of green infrastructure where appropriate
  • Continue to work with EPA, DEP and Mass Development on Brownfields assessment, cleanup and redevelopment
  • Develop a community garden
Goal 5 - Urban agriculture is a vibrant part of the community and source of local, fresh food for residents. Actions required to meet this goal include, but are not limited to the following actions:

  • Support the development of a community garden at Lincoln Grove Park
  • Identify a location for a year-round farmer's market and establish
  • Consider adoption of a right-to-farm by-law
  • Work with agricultural land owners on strategies to permanently protect working farms and farmland including agricultural preservation restrictions
  • Form an agricultural commission

This last version of the Chicopee Open Space and Recreation Plan was prepared by the Office of Planning & Development and the Parks & Recreation Department, with technical assistance provided by Conservation Works LLC.