Town of Acton, MA
Acton 2020
Comprehensive Community Plan

News Archive

Acton 2020 Presents Strategy for Kelley's Corner Revitalization

The Town of Acton adopted the Acton2020 Comprehensive Community Plan last year. One of the key strategies identified in the plan is to develop Kelley's Corner into a mixed use town center and transportation hub. On Monday, January 14, the Acton 2020 Committee presented a plan to the Board of Selectmen for moving forward on this town priority. The first steps involve $277,000 funding for professional consultants and engineers to create both a Kelley's Corner design framework and a preliminary engineering plan for public infrastructure investments. The Town Manager has included this funding in his proposed town budget. The Board of Selectman approved this in their final budget at their meeting January 28th.

Full Plan Approved by the Planning Board May 15, 2012

By state law, the approving authority for comprehensive community plans is the Planning Board. The Planning Board reviewed these documents and approved the plan at their May 15, 2012 meeting. Subsequently, the Board of Selectman has chartered the Acton 2020 Implementation Committee, which consists of some members from the Phase II committee as well as new members. If you are interested in volunteering for this committee, learn more here.

Full plan ready for final review by the Planning Board

By state law, the approving authority for comprehensive community plans is the Planning Board. A discussion of this topic is scheduled for the May 15 Planning Board meeting. Here is a link to the documents to be reviewed. A successful vote will launch Phase III of the 2020 process, the implementation phase. If the plan gets a passing vote from the Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen will take up consideration of how to charter and recruit volunteers for a phase III Acton 2020 Implementation Committee. This committee is expected to have some members from the current Phase II committee, and some new members. If you are interested in serving on this next phase of the 2020 process, please stay tuned for information on how to volunteer for this committee

April 2012 Town Meeting Approves 2020 Goals and Objectives

On the second night of Town Meeting 2012, there was a presentation by 2020 chair Margaret Woolley Busse, followed by spirited discussion and an overwhelmingly favorable vote on the Goals and Objectives. Thank you to everyone for getting us to this key point in the 2020 process.

Plan Launch March 6

The Acton 2020 committee will be presenting the full and final comprehensive community plan for Acton on March 6th 2012 at 7 PM in Acton Town Hall. This presentation represents the culmination of several years of hard work, including thousands of volunteer hours as well as thousands of community members providing valuable inspiration, ideas, and feedback.

Please join us at this event.

March 6 is also the Massachusetts Primary: so go vote and then join us to participate in learning what the future might hold for Acton, ask questions, and let us hear your comments.

Important - parking information: Because March 6 is the Presidential Primary, the first row of parking spaces directly up against Town Hall will be reserved for the election workers. We thank you ahead of time for not parking in spaces identified with an orange cone.

Youth Art Contest - deadline changed to March 5

The Acton 2020 committee believes that art can represent the community of Acton like nothing else. And so, in order to both make the plan complete as well as celebrate the ending of this planning process, we are hosting a Youth Art Contest.

The contest is open to youth from ages 6 to 21. Contest entrants should submit an original artwork that illustrates one of the seven goals developed to guide our Town's future. For example, artwork can pertain to more environmentally aware Acton, an Acton with more parks and open space, more ways to get around, and more places to hang out. Contestants should read through all the goals and choose one to illustrate. All artwork must adhere to the contest rules and artwork guidelines.

Winners of the Youth Art Contest will have their artwork published in the Comprehensive Community Plan. Winners will receive certificates during the event on March 6th. The deadline for this contest is March 5th at 5 PM. Art work along with the entry forms must be dropped off to the Planning Department at Town Hall by 5:00 pm.

For more information on the seven goals & objectives, contest rules, artwork guidelines, prizes and an entry form, download the contest packet here.

Strategies for Act(i)on: Materials available for download and comment

What’s Next? Strategies for Act(i)on

picture of money

Wednesday, November 9th
Parker-Damon Building, Charter Road

On November 9th, the Acton 2020 committee is handing out $100 Acton dollars to all comers, so that citizens can tell us what THEY would spend money on to improve Acton. Note: Just in case someone is getting really excited, this will not be real money!

Now that the committee has established goals, corresponding objectives, and an overall vision for Acton’s future, based on feedback from many Actonians, they are now working hard to come up with a list of specific implementation strategies that will support this vision for Acton. And so they are asking for citizen input one more time, to help evaluate the efficacy and prioritization of these proposed strategies. Since some of these strategies would cost the Town money, the committee wants to know specifically how citizens would prioritize spending: spend Acton dollars on purchasing more open space, building more sidewalks and bike paths, investing in developing Kelley’s corner or West Acton Village, or building a senior/community center? Or simply not spend any money at all?

Committee spokesperson Margaret Woolley Busse said: “We want to hear from you, so join us on November 9th and get your hands on some cold hard Acton cash!”

Before Nov 9 the latest proposed implementation strategies will be posted here. An older version of the action items is here, but these have been improved via many citizens at Fall meetings. There will be a much-improved version shortly - stay tuned.

Choose Your Own Acton: Meeting Results

On June 23, 2011, Acton Town Hall was filled with citizens discussing the future of Acton. The Comprehensive Community Plan process was at a crossroads, needing more detailed input on how to deal with anticipated residential growth in Acton over the next 20 years. Three alternatives were presented by the Acton 2020 committee and their consultants, and then discussed in breakout groups. Also, a list of features that might be a part of the final plan were discussed as well as any "wild cards" that could challenge any plan, among other topics. Over at the town's "DocuShare" system, you can find a formal writeup of the June 23 workshop and its findings.

Here's a brief summary, and a map of where we go from here.

preferred alternatives diagram

The group reviewed Alternative 1: Disperse Growth, Alternative 2: Limit Growth, and Alternative 3: Concentrate Growth. The third alternative, Concentrate Growth, was by far the preferred alternative, but there were many features from the other options that the group thought were important to retain in any final working plan.

The main concept of the Concentrate Growth alternative is to guide as much as possible of any future growth to key town centers, to mixed use infill and redevelopment. This includes a focus on

  • Transforming new and redeveloped commercial space to fit each village or town center's character.
  • Emphasizing walking, biking, and public transportation.
  • Continuing open space acquisition/protection.

The preferred features that the group thought should be a part of any plan are on the chart below and to the right. They are shown in order of preference, and shown in the color of which alternative they originally belonged to.

Where do we go from here?

other preferred features diagram

The preferred alternative, and the top preferred features, are now the committee's "working plan outline". The committee and the consultants are now turning our attention to filling in the many details, including:

  • Generating and then winnowing the possible strategies that support this working plan, and also support one or more objectives of our goals.
  • Closing out any remaining issues and edits in our element inventory chapters.
  • Uncovering and agreeing on the overall themes of this plan, and agreeing on how to organize the entire plan.
  • Consulting with committees, blog and faceook readers, and other experts and groups, on our working plan outline and the strategies that support it.
  • Preparing for a November meeting to roll out the draft plan, after all this gets integrated.

Please stay tuned to our meeting agendas, and our website, blog and facebook announcements, for further details on dates and topics to be discussed.

Fall Schedule: Reviewing and Improving the Draft Implementation Plan

Here's the Fall schedule, where the committee plans to review and improve the draft implementation plan. We could use your help. In addition to the key committees and community groups that are being invited, there are a lot of you out there with specific interests and knowledge. Please come by to any of these meetings - the chair will take time to call on members of the public to speak. The draft strategies are now available - see the links on the documents page.

Sept 21stGoal II. Ensure Environmental Sustainability
 Goal VII. Financial Wellbeing
Sept 28thGoal V: Support Inclusion and Diversity
 Affordable housing strategies
Oct 12thGoal III. Improve Connections
 Goal IV. More Opportunities for Community Gathering and Recreation
 5.1. Support all ages
 5.3 Embrace cultural diversity
Oct 26thGoal I. Preserve and Enhance Town Character
 Goal VI: Preserve and Enhance Town Owned Assets

And be sure to reserve the evening of November 9, where we will roll out all of these reviewed strategies as a single package.

Save the Date - June 23 - Choose Your Own Acton

6:30 PM - 9:30 PM at Acton Town Hall

The Acton 2020 Committee wants to get your input on alternative courses of action for guiding Acton’s future, regarding choices about our schools, housing, economic development, and transportation…among other issues. Come tell us which course YOU would choose… and why?

Follow this link for more details on the alternatives.

The Dial-A-Ride Service will be available for the 6/23 meeting

For those that don't have access to a car, or just want to give your car a rest, or want a chance to try Acton's new Dial-A-Ride service for only $2.00 per trip, book the trip at: 978-844-6809 or on-line at www.minutevan.net. For the 6/23/11 meeting – the reservation must be made by 10:30 AM on Tuesday 6/21/11 (this is earlier than usual because it involves a schedule shift)

It's a Wonderful Acton Video available for viewing

The "World Premiere" at Theatre III was a hit - now this dramatization of the need for community participation in planning for Acton's future is now available here.

Burning Issues - March Meetings and our blog

The Acton 2020 Committee held three public meetings in March at Town Hall so that we could better understand some of the issues that matter most to Actonians. What we learned is helping to contribute to the development of specific strategies which can help us reach our town’s goals. Click on any of the links below to learn more.

And in the mean time, please join the ongoing conversation about these and other burning issues at our blog

World Premiere Video Event June 6

To spark your interest in the "Choose Your Own Acton" event, and the comprehensive community planning process, come see the video It's a Wonderful Acton at our World Premiere event at Theater III in West Acton on Monday June 6. Showings every 20 minutes from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Free to all with refreshments provided. (And after the premiere, you can see it on this website). Video produced, directed, edited and starring many familiar Acton faces. RSVP if you like to WorldPremiere@acton2020.info or sign up via facebook.

Eat, work, shop: Economic Development in Acton

Thursday, March 3rd
7:00- 9:30pm
Acton Town Hall

Do Actonians want to live in a more self-contained community, with enough of our own retail establishments and industry to reduce the need to drive to employment, entertainment, recreation, and shopping venues?  Or do we prefer to let other towns host the businesses we patronize and instead emphasize the more rural and/or bedroom-community characteristics of the town?  If economic development is pursued, what kind should be encouraged and where should it be located? We need your input as we assess and prioritize economic development in Acton.

A complete write-up of the economic development meeting results is available in PDF form. The UNDERLYING THEME was that there seemed to be consensus regarding the fact that what seemed both more desirable as well as most feasible in terms of future development was small-scale --mostly in the form of restaurants and shops --in-fill development in the village centers and Kelley’s Corner. The discussion also focused on the importance of understanding how to attract and retain desirable businesses (e.g. providing incentives, investing in infrastructure, streamlining permitting, etc.). Participants also emphasized the importance of supporting small and home-based businesses.

Click here for a complete agenda in PDF format.

How can we love cars and hate traffic?: Getting around Acton

Wednesday, March 9th
Acton Town Hall

“I got stuck in traffic.” We all hear it, perhaps with increasing frequency.  Acton has several key traffic pinch points that cause frustration for all. What can the town do to help alleviate car congestion? And what about those who are unable to drive? Are Actonians willing to use more public transportation if it were offered? Are there enough people clustered in the right places to make a public transportation system viable? Will investment in bike paths and sidewalks help alleviate traffic? Or are the costs of such undertakings really worth the benefit? Come help us evaluate how we can get around town better.

A complete write-up of the transportation development meeting results is available in PDF format. The UNDERLYING THEME expressed by most participants is that there is a strong interest in reducing auto travel by providing alternatives including walking facilities (sidewalks), bike lanes/paths, town shuttle, and by reducing driving to the schools.

Click here for an agenda for the evening; and click here for highlights of the state of transportation in Acton. And here's the slides.

Where, how much, what kind, for whom?: Housing in Acton

Saturday, March 12th
Acton Town Hall

Every new housing development built in Acton seems to generate discussion.    Some people feel that we need more housing of a certain type, e.g., affordable housing, 55+ communities, more dense housing, less dense housing.  Others are of the opinion that any more housing will overtax town resources--especially the schools and water & sewer systems--and will cause more traffic.  Many residents express concern that additional development has potential negative impacts on our town character (e.g. that it will gobble up open space or that it will not be designed to fit in with Acton’s historic character).  Help us think through what the right balance is for Acton.

A complete write-up of the housing meeting results is available in PDF format. The UNDERLYING THEME expressed by participants is that there is a desire to focus on meeting Acton’s specific and actual housing needs rather than 40B requirements (especially not in one large development) and that small, scattered and integrated sites of “affordable” housing is more in keeping with the town’s character and attitudes. Many thought that infill in and around village centers was a desirable and appropriate location for smaller, more affordable housing units.

Click here for an agenda for the event; and click here for highlights of the state of housing in Acton.

Results from the October 20 Workshop are now available

On the evening of Wednesday, October 20 2010, more than seventy Actonians came to the High School to learn about the next phase of the Acton 2020 Comprehensive Community Plan process, and offer ideas, questions and concerns. Members of the Acton 2020 Committee were on hand to answer questions, and listen to feedback.

Feedback from the evening is now available. Most of the evening focused on the six emerging goals -- we now have feedback about those goals.

Jim Purdy of the Planners Collaborative, the consultants helping the Committee with the plan, updated residents on data gathered so far. Here are the introductory slides he showed.

Residents broke in to groups to discuss the six goals identified in the first phase of the planning process. Packets of information had a summary of the data collected so far, and the six emerging goals from Phase I.

Tasty and ample food was provided by Visnja Zarak & Donna German, the owners of the new Acton catering business, Hostess. Generous door prizes were provided by Especially for Pets, Village Art, the League of Women Voters, and AAA Southern New England.

The Acton 2020 Committee and their consultants have started sifting through all the feedback, in order to redirect and strengthen the emerging plan. A lot of great ideas emerged at the workshop about adjusting the goals, finding new ways to achieve them, and identifying additional data, research, and analysis that will be needed to evaluate where the town is now, where it is headed, and how to get to where we want to be.

On behalf of the Acton 2020 Committee: deep thanks to all who showed up, and everyone else who contributed behind the scenes by sending in ideas, attending our committee meetings, and participating in Phase I. Watch this space for next steps and more chances for you to contribute. And any time you have questions or ideas, don't hesitate to contact us.

Where is Acton today, and where should it be tomorrow?

The Acton 2020 Plan depends on your input. Come continue the community conversation on the future of Acton on Wednesday October 20, 2010 from 6:30 to 9:30 PM at the High School. In addition to providing your ideas on preserving what’s special about Acton and improving what could be better, it’s an opportunity to learn more about your town. How fast has the Acton population grown recently? What is the average age of an Acton resident? How many entrepreneurs call Acton home? Come learn and contribute on October 20th.

Refreshments will be served.