HARVARD -- The Office of the Planning Board of the town of Harvard met Aug. 13 with prospective Master Plan consultants as part of the Request for Proposals (RFP) process.

Master Plan Steering Committee (MPSC) members fielded questions on housing, transportation and other factors to be considered in the Master Plan, but focused on the fiscal, social and cultural analysis of Devens, which will be the major effort for consultants in this Master Plan cycle.

The Office of the Planning Board issued the Master Plan Consultant RFP on July 1. To qualify, the consulting firm or team is required to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the structure and functions of local town government in Massachusetts, the challenges town governments face and the fundamentals of municipal planning and land use regulations in Massachusetts. The RFP also states a preference for a consultant with experience in helping communities with priority-setting of different, sometimes conflicting, goals. Proposals are due on Aug. 23; the MPSC envisions signing a contract with a Master Plan consultant firm in mid-September.

Proposals are invited in accordance with the provisions of Massachusetts General Law c. 30B. Procedures under this invitation require a submission of a technical proposal and a separate and confidential submission of a price proposal. Participation in today's bidders conference was optional and not a prerequisite to proposal submission.

This RFP is available in the Harvard Planning Department, Town Hall, 13 Ayer Road, Harvard, MA 01451, 978-456-4100 ext. 321. The deadline for proposals is 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23.

Massachusetts General Law Section 81D requires that towns and cities develop master plans as a basis for decision-making regarding their long-term development. The town of Harvard Master Plan project seeks to set policies, directions, and strategies through the next decade for land use, infrastructure, capital outlays, municipal service priorities, and governance. This RFP is for Phase II of the Master Plan, and focuses on translating the vision and goals articulated in Phase I into programs, plans, and tasks for the town for the next decade. Phase I of the current master planning process was completed in March 2012 and is available at http://harvard.ma.us/Pages/HarvardMA_BComm/Planning/index. The town's previous Master Plan is from 2001/2002.

The Planning Board will issue a separate RFP for a part-time consultant/planner later this year, under a plan approved at Town Meeting last April. The Master Plan Consultant will work closely with this part-time consultant/planner in the development of Harvard's Master Plan. For further information, please contact Joe Hutchinson, Office of the Planning Board, Telephone: 978-456-3032, jhutchinson.town@gmail.com.