Winchester's Master Plan: Act Now!

Submitted by Council Chair on Wed, 05/08/2019 - 11:40

The Town of Winchester is writing a Master Plan that will guide development and community life for the next 10 years and beyond. The plan will have a big effect on our lives, and represents an exciting opportunity to both solve today's persistent problems and create a more beautiful town for tomorrow. Planning allows us to get the most out of what we do, and identify new things to do that can improve our lives as a community.

The previous Master Plan was written more than 65 years ago, and the lack of guidance for all that time has caused some problems.

The planning process has been underway for about year, and is now in its most important phase: Community Engagement. The plan will be based entirely on comments from those people who speak up before the deadline, which is currently on Town Day, June 1. Now is the time to point out any problems or to suggest any issues to address or new directions for the town to go.

The Winchester Town Common Task Force is sponsoring a meeting on Tuesday, May 14 at 7 pm at Winchester High School, Rooms B118 & B119, where people can learn about the Master Plan and join the planning. More information about the meeting is on the Town Common website.

Planning for Culture

How can Winchester promote a thriving arts community? How can we better preserve the historical and cultural treasures that we now possess? The 2018 focus groups identified several concerns.

Other suggestions might include

  • A high-quality performance and gathering space downtown for the many theater, music, dance, and other performance groups now competing for the few school and church venues available. The auditorium could also host public lectures and other meetings. A downtown location is easiest for transportation and would increase activity in the business district.
  • More venues for creating and sharing visual arts and crafts, especially downtown—similar to Art in August and Art at the Market
  • Town arts festivals, similar to the West Medford Open Studios and to Arlington PorchFest
  • Promoting and activating the new Winchester Cultural District
  • Adding art to public spaces, particularly as a part of any renovation or new construction.
    • Any renovation of the two Winchester Commuter Rail stations should include an arts/culture component with local involvement
    • All development with in the Winchester Cultural District should be reviewed for possible arts components
  • Better ways to inform residents about cultural events, including designated signage downtown
  • Better connections between school arts communities and the greater Winchester cultural community.
  • More resources for the Town Archives to preserve, collect, and display records and artifacts from our history.
  • Transportation links between downtown and satellite cultural centers, including the Winchester Community Music School, Sanborn House, Wright Locke Farm, and the Next Door Theater (next door to Kidstock and the Ballet Arts Center)
  • Planning for the future of the cultural institutions in town, including the Town Library and the many private and volunteer organizations that give Winchester its creative soul.

Planning for the Future

Just as past plans focused road construction, the current plan should prioritize plans to modernizing the digital infrastructure of the town. It should

  • Modernize the way the Town communicates to, and interacts with, residents and other partners. The Town website should be replaced with new system that includes a comprehensive communication strategy. The current system is obsolete, cumbersome, and not suited for the way people use electronic media.
  • Include an electronic records archive program, similar to the Winchester Legacy Project
  • Consider ways to expand Internet connectivity within the town, by increasing the number of service providers and possibly offering free wifi.

Take Action!

Come to the meeting and share your ideas and your vision! There are many other ways to contribute; visit the discussion site at courb.co/winchester and see the town website's Master Plan status page for more information.