The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission and eight cities and towns were jointly awarded $80,000 to develop a shared computerized system for citizens to report and track public works related problems, and a 311 Call Center to handle requests for information and services relating to their municipal departments.
The grant came in at $300,000 below the request, so the program will require local matching funds. Five of the communities — Amesbury, Andover, Haverhill, Newburyport, and North Andover – have pledged funds, so the program will begin with them, according to Dennis DiZoglio, executive director of the commission, which is the lead entity on the grant.
He said the three other communities – Lawrence, Methuen, and Salisbury – and potentially other communities – could opt to join at a later date.
The participants and Essex Sheriff Frank G. Cousins Jr. are pursuing a plan to have the 311 call operators work out of the regional emergency dispatch center that is set to open this spring on the grounds of the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton.
A group of seven communities led by Acton and including Westford will receive $60,000 to develop a regional transportation management association. The nonprofit public/private partnership would seek to develop and implement transportation services for residents of the communities.
John Laidler can be reached at email@example.com.