Regional planners lauded for their digital tools

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Planners Association recently announced the recipients of its 2019 planning awards. The Addison County Regional Planning Commission  is among the award recipients.
For 27 years, these awards have recognized outstanding achievements in community planning in Vermont. Nominees come from all corners of Vermont and represent the best in local, regional, and state planning by citizen and professional planners over the last year. According to Mark Kane, President of the Vermont Planners Association, these awards, “help cast a strong spotlight on the best in community plans and projects and recognize the important contributions from both citizen and professional planners.”
Project of the Year
The Addison County Regional Planning Commission decided to take action on the development of a data collection tool to assist municipal staff in complying with the Municipal Road General Permit (MRGP). The Fulcrum Road Erosion and Drainage Inventory (FREDI) tool addresses a town’s need to comply with permit requirements that mandate all Vermont municipalities complete a road erosion inventory by 2020.
At the time of the mandate, no tools existed to digitally collect this data. The State of Vermont has since developed an app through ESRI ArcGIS and Survey123 for use by consultants and regional planning commissions to assist in completion of these road erosion inventories.
The FREDI tool was specifically designed for use by municipalities and novice data collection technology users and provides significant advantages over the State tool. The interface for FREDI is simple to use because of the prioritization system and interface coded into the program. Some added features in FREDI over the State app is that FREDI visually displays which segments have been assessed by the user and their post-assessment status and includes three additional factors for the prioritization process for road segments with road field slope, road erosion risk and phosphorus export potential. These factors inform municipalities on road segments that may cause the most detriment to water quality through nutrient and sediment transport.
The FREDI tool is currently used by several towns in Rutland County and Addison County with additional towns receiving training on the tool. As a result of this project, municipal officials have gained a greater understanding of the benefit of property managing stormwater. Diane Benware Leicester Selectboard Chair said, “We have been very satisfied with the inclusionary process, the ease of using the app, the on-going support, and the comprehensive results gained by conducting the inventory. The entire Selectboard has a better understanding of the benefits of properly managing storm water as a result of our participation in this endeavor.”

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