City of Worcester Strategic Plan
The City of Worcester Strategic Plan, developed and launched in fiscal year 2020 after public input through formatted focus groups and a citywide survey, is a key complement to the City’s future Master Plan and the Worcester Public Schools’ Strategic Plan. The focus of the City’s Strategic Plan is on internal performance and service delivery to enhance economic competitiveness.
The Plan is a living document that has been created and will be continually updated and integrated into the everyday activities of City government. It articulates the City’s vision during the next three to five year period, and how the City is going to get there by aligning government services, operations, strategies, goals and objectives to help City leaders drive performance an outcome, increase transparency and enhance communication.
- Vibrant, Thriving City
- Strong Neighborhoods
- Opportunity for All
- Sound Fiscal and Operational Government
Green Worcester Plan (2021)
The Green Worcester Plan is a strategic framework for government, residents, businesses and institutions to work together towards a resilient, green, livable, prosperous and equitable City. This framework builds on previous plans such as: the Climate Action Plan in 2006 which established an energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy use program for City-owned facilities and operations, and the 2019 Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness plan to identify priority climate change hazards and preparedness actions. The Green Worcester Plan was developed by the City’s Energy & Asset Management Division 2019– 2020 with the collaboration of the Green Worcester Working Group, made up of City staff, representatives of environmental organizations and residents, and a consultant. Public participation included a professional, scientific public opinion survey; several online surveys; a public workshop; and a public open house on proposed goals and actions.
The foundation of the Green Worcester Plan is a citywide transition to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2045. The plan also focuses on retrofitting buildings and transportation infrastructure, investing in natural systems, achieving social equity, and promoting education and awareness.
Worcester for Everyone: A Regional Housing & Economic Study Outlining Local Opportunity (2019)
Phase I: Best Practices
Worcester’s population grew by 14% since 1980, with most population growth concentrated in the urban core. The report projected a 19% increase in residents aged 25-64 by 2030. Though Worcester outperforms peer communities in housing production, the City is still under producing 1900 homes per year. The report’s analysis also found that 21% of Worcester residents live below the poverty line, concentrated in the urban core. A lack of investment in subsidized and affordable housing from surrounding communities has concentrated poverty in Worcester, especially as the Boston Metro region becomes increasingly unaffordable for working class residents. The report summarizes a number of unconventional strategies and case studies to preserve and increase the stock of affordable housing in Worcester.
Phase II: Housing and Community Preference Survey
The survey conducted for this report contained the following findings.
- Walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods are in high demand.
- Renters and buyers want no-frills housing that is attainably priced. Respondents from all demographic groups and life stages did not prefer higher-end finishes and amenities such as gyms and balconies over a lower price.
- Commuters can be enticed to move to Worcester. 29% of respondents said yes when asked if they would consider moving to Worcester. 31% of respondents said maybe. Open space, proximity to grocery stores, safety, good schools, and a variety of restaurants were respondents’ most preferred amenities.
- Employees are interested in employer-assisted housing programs.
- Residents want a welcoming and attractive downtown with cultural events and experiences. Respondents were most enthusiastic about music and cultural festivals, public concerts, indoor public markets, and food trucks.
Greater Worcester Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP); Community Health Assessments (CHA)
The CHA (2018) assessed needs related to social determinants of health in Worcester and surrounding counties. The most pressing issue identified was a lack of affordable housing and poor housing conditions. Lack of affordable transportation was also identified as a cause of adverse health outcomes, combined with issues related to food insecurity. Lower-income areas and areas with higher concentrations of people of color were less likely than other areas to have grocery stores or markets with fresh produce. 22% of Worceter residents receive SNAP benefits (food stamps). Air quality in Worcester was classified as “Good,” indicating that air quality posed little to no risk to population health. However, hospitalizations and deaths related to cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, mental disorders, and substance use disorders, were significantly higher in Worcester than in surrounding counties and the Commonwealth overall.
The CHIP (2016) contained specific action items to address issues identified in the prior CHA (not the CHA summarized above). Priority areas included access to care, economic opportunity, access to healthy food, opportunities for physical activity, and safety.
Worcester Cultural Plan (2019)
The Worcester Cultural Plan crafted a vision for Worcester focused on: ease of access, entrepreneurship, diversity, and a cohesive public realm. Becoming Worcester was commissioned by the City of Worcester, the Worcester Cultural Coalition, and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation. The report was produced by Creative Community Builders (Minneapolis, MN) and Tom Borrup | Harry Waters consultants. The plan outlines goals for City agencies and local organizations to meet, aimed at furthering the plan’s vision of an inclusive, cohesive, diverse, and innovative Worcester. The plan includes target outcomes and timelines for those outcomes assigned to City agencies and local organizations.
Other Plans or Studies
- Open Space & Recreation Plan (forthcoming – close to final, getting approved by state)
- Worcester Water System Master Plan (Integrated Plan)
- Worcester Hazard Mitigation Plan Update (2019)
- Housing First Task Force
- Main South Transformative District Initiative (TDI)
- Worcester Historic Preservation Study (2017)
- City of Worcester Urban Design and Streetscape Guidelines
- Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan (2016)
- Worcester Facilities Management Consolidation Study
- Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing, Worcester, Massachusetts
Other Reference Docs
- Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Plan (2019)
- Main South Transformative District Initiative (TDI) – ongoing
- Downtown Worcester Parking and Transit Study (2018)
- Complete Streets (2017)
- Defining our Path, a Strategic Plan for Education in Worcester, 2018-2023
- 5-Year Consolidated Community Planning and Development Plan
- Downtown Worcester Theatre District Master Plan
- Central Massachusetts Grows: Greater Worcester Area Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)
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