Strategic Planning Retreat Draws Record Crowd

For the sixth year, town leaders and local residents alike gathered at Kimball Farm for the Town of Westford’s Annual Strategic Planning Retreat.

In this year’s edition, updates were provided on the expected new Fire Station on Boston Road and Combined Dispatch Center, the proposed rehabilitation of the Roudenbush Community Center, efforts to expand the J.V. Fletcher Library and discussion on a potential new home for the Recreation Department.

Approximately 250 people then broke up into discussions on those four topics, where town staff gathered feedback and provided additional information to anyone seeking it.

That figure set a record attendance for the event, which was just over 200 last year and around 100 during its inaugural year in 2011.

Maciej Wiczynski looks over materials near the entrance of the Strategic Planning Retreat

Maciej Wiczynski looks over materials near the entrance of the Strategic Planning Retreat

Each year, the event provides the town’s leaders with something difficult to obtain at times: direction from the public.

“One of the single hardest things as a selectman is just knowing what it is people want us to do,” said Kelly Ross, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “Anything we can do that gives people the opportunity to tell us is worth doing.”

The majority of the crowd consisted of town employees and elected or appointed residents serving on town boards, such as Ross. However, the evening also had many interested residents, such as Paul Royte.

Royte had never been to one of Westford’s Annual Strategic Planning Retreats before. He left expecting that next year will have a thousand participants.

“I came here primarily because of the library,” said Royte. “But to find the food and all the supportive people here? I’m just surprised there aren’t more young people.”

Throughout the evening, town staff gathered surveys and other information from participants at the event. The generalized results of that data are expected to be released to the public sometime in the next few weeks.

WestfordCAT was also on hand to record the preliminary updates at the beginning of the event. Recordings of those updates will become available within the next few days.