Podcast: Regional Planning Commission Brings Communities Together for Common Good

Theresa Park, executive director of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. (Courtesy photograph.)

Planning offices for the cities of Haverhill and Methuen and other communities throughout the Merrimack Valley are called upon to look into the future, and work out visions for growth, the environment and transportation.

Communities receive support from the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, led by Executive Director Theresa Park. She was formally appointed in January, but had served on the Commission as Lawrence’s representative. Park said the Commission offers needed help for each of the 15 communities it serves, and the result is greater than if each were alone.

“For example, what we have the ability to do is to gather together these groups of municipalities so they can share lessons learned, best practices, so they, one, don’t feel like they are on their own dealing with these challenges and, two, there are times when the sum of the parts is greater than the whole , so we’re able to almost like to facilitate, or streamline, the search for, and answers to, possible solutions to the problems that they’re having,” she explains.

Park, who was a guest recently on WHAV’s morning program, said the Haverhill-based organization provides additional capacity to help communities thrive. In addition to individual town projects, Park said, they help with regional issues too. Recently State Sen. Diana DiZoglio delivered a state grant for the MVPC, allowing the agency to do two things.

“One, which is to look at the Merrimack River, and thinking about how we can recognize it as a resource and an asset, and what’s needed to go forward better protecting it as a resource and maximizing its’ potential,” she said.

Park notes the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission is working with the Merrimack River District Commission and doing the “early work” to help move the project along. The Commission is also involved with providing technological assistance for its member communities, allowing up-to-date monitoring of infrastructure for water, sewer and stormwater drainage, which helps the municipalities with their day-to-day management.

The Commission’s website, at MVPC.org, contains information for the general public, including interactive maps, along with data and demographics.

Besides WHAV.net, WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts are available via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.

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