After the City of Newburyport’s Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) expired, the City enlisted BETA to provide professional planning and expertise in the production of an updated plan. BETA gathered current data needed to develop a picture of Newburyport’s population characteristics and trends – information that helps identify the likely recreational and open space needs of the City’s residents. BETA reviewed existing City and regional plans that address elements such as future build-out, economic development, natural resource protection, statewide open space recreation trends and needs, and climate resiliency.
Flexibility was needed while engaging the public in the update process, as it was being conducted during the COVID-19 outbreak. Working with the City, BETA switched gears and abandoned the original plans to conduct several on-site meetings. Instead, phone interviews were conducted with individuals and small groups of stakeholders and key municipal officials over a period of three weeks. A virtual public visioning session was held to seek input from and engage the Parks Commission and public in the process. Early in the process, BETA worked with the project team to develop a community survey, which was promoted through online outlets including the City’s webpage, social media, emails, online local news media, and local print news media. BETA collected feedback, analyzed the responses, and helped draw meaningful conclusions from the survey.
The update to the plan included helping the City identify needs within its existing parks and recreational facilities. BETA developed Inventory Analysis Sheets (IAS) that were then used during on-site investigations of each area to capture pertinent information, including photos, about each site. BETA’s GIS group developed maps to help assess current land use patterns and the impact of future land use and has updated the other maps needed to complete the report.