Nashua Regional Planning Commission receives award

Nashua Regional Planning Commission was awarded the New Hampshire Plan­ners Association’s Plan of the Year Award for "The Nashua Region: A Story Worth Telling."

The plan offers tools and insight for local planners as they endeavor to implement their local master plan goals and objectives.

"This plan brings data, facts and local voices to­gether to better inform de­cision-makers and support the planning goals and ob­jectives for the region," said Dave Hennessey, chairman of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission.

To craft this plan, the NRPC used an unorthodox approach and invested time in locations that planners don’t often get to visit. From the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter to the Nashua Police Athletic League after-school program to Hollis Veterans Club meetings, staff mem­bers engaged with residents who traditionally don’t have the opportunity to partici­pate in planning processes.

The development of the plan also used traditional data-gathering techniques, resulting in an enormous amount of analysis.

From the number of home foreclosures to the share of residents in or near poverty to the number of job losses absorbed during the reces­sion – all of those data points can be found in the NRPC’s regional plan. But statistics can be cold and faceless, and hide the tremendous human influences these events have on individuals and families. The "Our Stories" compo­nent of the plan provides a unique and more personal­ized lens in which to view these issues.

The plan tells the story of a family who lost their home to foreclosure and the tre­mendous effects that event had on their school-age chil­dren.

It tells the story of a young man who endured the shock and uncertainty of losing his job in the depth of the Great Recession. It includes the stories from the found­ers of a startup frozen-food company, including both the excitement of strong initial sales and the unease brought by rising electricity bills.

The NRPC has discussed energy costs, senior mobility, home foreclosures and eco­nomic trends before in other plans, and doubtlessly will again. However, never before has a plan in New Hamp­shire seized the opportuni­ty to explore the profound and life-changing effects these issues and events di­rectly have on residents across the region.

There are about 205,000 people in the Nashua re­gion. The NRPC interacted with about 1,800 of them in crafting the regional plan through numerous occasions, ranging from workshops to old home days and interviews to on­line surveys.

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