ROCKPORT — Seeking input to create an open space plan worthy of state certification, Rockport's Open Space and Recreation Advisory Committee will hold its first public forum at Rockport Public Library tonight.
The two-hour meeting, scheduled to begin at 7:30 in the library's Brenner Room, will include an explanation of the state requirements for a plan, findings from surveys taken by residents, an overview of the major guiding principles of the committee, and solicitation of feedback from the public.
"The commonwealth states that public input is crucial to the plan and so we would like as many people as possible to attend," Committee Chairman Christopher Lewis said.
The new committee is picking up where the last one left off more than a decade ago. Rockport has not had an approved open space plan since 1983. An attempt to update it was made by a 21-member committee in 1997, but fell short of completion.
The first hour of the meeting will feature a demonstration of the newly acquired geographic information system by Peter Van Demark, a professional cartographer with Maptitude GIS who joined the committee in June. Lewis said a geographic information system is crucial in developing a plan. A geographic information system is a reference tool that uses geographic information to analyze data, which Lewis believes will have positive ramifications for Rockport and produce substantial cost savings.
Equipped with a geographic information system, the assessors' office would be able to digitize its maps and update them regularly. Assistant Assessor Diane Lashua said earlier this year such a system would certainly benefit the assessors.
Lewis said residents would no longer need to go to Town Hall to research information on their property but could get information online. Currently, assessors' maps are created manually on Mylar and are six years out of date. The state recommends updating plot data every year.
Van Demark will also be discussing the results of a survey completed earlier this year that asked residents for their opinions on a range of issues, including the importance of acquiring or preserving open space to the specific parcels residents would like the town to acquire. It even asked residents what they liked best about living in Rockport.
The committee received 296 responses to its survey, far exceeding the 152 survey responses for the 1997 draft plan, and even the 252 responses during the 1983 process.
"This is a timely meeting because open space planning is an important part of Rockport's master plan ..." Lewis said Wednesday.
The committee plans to synthesize the information it will receive Monday night to form recommendations; once recommendations are completed, another public forum will be held to discuss them.
Jonathan L'Ecuyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.