Nine firms bid on Chester downtown masterplanning

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC


A map of the Chester Village Center district.

When all of the responses to Chester’s Request for Proposals were opened on Friday, nine firms had put their names forward hoping to be the consultant who leads the town’s  Village Center Master Plan process.

Town Manager David Pisha and Executive Assistant Julie Hance said they were delighted to have a large number of proposals to review over the next two weeks.

The next step is for a five-member committee — Hance, Pisha, Jason Rasmussen of Southern Windsor County Regional Development, Richard Amore of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development  and Jackie Cassino of VTrans — review the proposals using a scoring system before getting together to compare scores and narrow the field.  VTrans and the ACCD are the state agencies that partnered to provide the Strong Communities, Better Connections grant of $70,000 that funds the effort.

Hance and Pisha hope to have a consultant hired by the end of May and begin the process by choosing people who will serve on a steering committee that will be the town’s main point of contact with the consultant. While they are not yet certain whether its members can be chosen by the group that chooses the consultant or if the committee will be Select Board appointments, the steering committee is envisioned as five people including Hance and Pisha. While they will rely on Rasmussen and Bob Flint of Springfield Regional Development Corp., they are not sure whether those two will be members or ex-officio. That leaves one, two or three spots open for members of the public.

The steering committee will have a hand in choosing the focus groups for various aspects of town life that people care about. These could include history, arts, recreation, preservation, business, economic development, transportation among many possibilities.  As currently envisioned this would involve a town-wide meeting in late June or early July when the consultant would lay out the process and begin to set up focus groups.

“Ultimately, the goal is to engage the public to learn what is important to Chester,” said Pisha.

Click on the names of the nine firms that have submitted proposals to lead the downtown master planning project to go to their websites.

The Cecil Group of Boston, Mass.

Behan Planning and Design of Saratoga, N.Y.

Broadreach Planning and Design of Charlotte, Vt.

SE Group of Burlington, Vt.

Community Workshop of Middlebury, Vt.

Greenman Pedersen, Inc of White River Junction, Vt.*

Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative of Burlington, Vt.

Landworks of Middlebury, Vt

Arnett Muldrow of Greenville, S.C.

*While its proposal lists one of its Vermont offices, Greenman Pedersen has more than 40 offices nationwide.

Hance told The Telegraph on Friday that all of the bids were between $67,962 and $70,000. Pisha called the difference in prices “substantially insignificant.”

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