The Town of Amherst is seeking Requests for Proposals for experienced professional planning consultants to assist with an update to the Town's Master Plan.

Amherst is located in Hillsborough County.  The 2018 Census estimate for Amherst was 11,329 residents, which ranked 27th among New Hampshire's incorporated cities and towns.  According to the US Census Bureau in 2018 there were 333.9 persons per square mile of land area. Amherst contains 33.9 square miles of land area and 0.5 square miles of inland water area.

The Town includes many varied land uses over its large geographical area, including low density, forested areas to the north, a well preserved town center and well-known Historic District, and considerable commercial development to the south and west along Route 101A.

The current Master Plan was adopted in 2010.

Master Plan Update
The Amherst Planning Board has established a Master Plan Steering Committee comprised of nine members:  two Planning Board, one Selectman, one Conservation Commission, one Heritage Commission, one School Board, and three citizens-at-large.  The Committee drafted and published a general input gathering survey using Survey Monkey in December 2020 - January 2021.  

The proposed update to the Master Plan is to take a less traditional approach than past plans.  Rather than following a chapter format adhering to the statutorily defined sections of RSA 674:2, the Committee intends to take the data from the survey, plus their own knowledge of recent trends, to create a theme-based Master Plan.  The themes established will be developed and expanded by working groups.  The themes that have been discussed in a preliminary fashion address defining and preserving the character of Amherst, ensuring that Amherst is an affordable community for people of all ages, establishing an appropriate level of business, enhancing and protecting the natural environment, and managing town infrastructure.

Outreach and engagement are to continue as the working groups gather and present information to allow for scenario planning and discussion of "trade-offs" in future land use designations.

The ultimate design of the Master Plan is as yet undefined, except that the document and any online version is to be user-friendly, easy to read, useful to its many audiences, and provide an implementable action plan to allow the goals and objectives to be realized.

Scope of Services
The consultant will work directly with the Master Plan Steering Committee, Planning Board, and Office of Community Development.  The scope of services includes, but is not limited to:

• Community Engagement
It is intended that the outreach begun with the recent community survey continue throughout the Master Plan update process.  The consultant selected may be required to conduct Zoom meetings and focus groups, facilitate discussions at virtual events, coordinate additional surveys, attend public hearings, and so on.
• Goals and Vision
The consultant shall assist the Master Plan Steering Committee in establishing a vision statement for the Master Plan and refining said statement following public input and discussion.  The consultant shall assist the Master Plan Steering Committee and working groups in creating achievable goals and objectives.
• Themes
The consultant shall assist the Master Plan Steering Committee in analyzing the data collected to-date and generating the themes that will be used to create the Master Plan update.
• Working Groups
The consultant shall assist the Master Plan Steering Committee as needed in establishing working groups and determining the scope of work for the groups, expected outputs and timelines.  The coordination of these working groups and the management of the data-gathering potentially across multiple groups as part of the theme-based approach will be vitally important to the success of the Master Plan update.
• Data collection and analysis
The consultant shall assist the Master Plan Steering Committee and Working Groups as needed in collecting background statistics - demographics, transportation, community facilities and services, housing, natural resources, history and heritage, recreation.  These data, along with the input received from past and ongoing outreach and engagement, will inform the work of the working groups and become part of the Master Plan document.
• Draft Plan
The consultant shall assist the Master Plan Steering Committee in creating an engaging, useful and implementable Master Plan.  The Plan itself will likely be presented in written form but will also have an online presence.  Visuals, graphics, summaries and other presentation tools tailored to various audiences will be important.
• Timing
It is the intention of the Master Plan Steering Committee that a draft Master Plan be completed by the end of 2021.

General Requirements
• In the performance of the services requested, the consultant shall not be considered an employee of the Town of Amherst, but shall be an independent contractor or employee of the company/organization submitting the proposal.  The consultant shall perform the services on behalf of the Town and will serve as the Town's agent.
• The consultant shall provide a summary of the firm's current insurance coverage for comprehensive, general liability, professional liability, automotive liability and workers' compensation insurance.  Indicate the limits of coverage on each policy.
• The issuance of this RFP is not a guarantee that the Town of Amherst will select any of the applicants that submit a proposal.  The Town reserves the right to withdraw this RFP or to reject all proposals received in response to it.  The Town reserves the right to waive any non-material irregularities or information in any RFP.  
• The Town of Amherst assumes no responsibility or liability for costs incurred by recipients of this RFP in responding to it or in responding to any subsequent information requests.

Submission Requirements
The consultant shall provide the following information for consideration:

• A letter of interest, signed by an individual authorized to bind the offer.
• Based on the description above of the theme based master plan approach, the consultant is encouraged to present ideas for innovative planning techniques to connect the Town's future land use plan to the goals and wishes of the community.
• Statement of qualifications and proposal for consulting services, to include the experience of each company staff person expected to work with the Town, any additional consultants and subcontractors, company history and outline of capabilities, including previous work for municipalities.
• Samples from previous master plans, including links to websites if available.
• Copies of all applicable certificates of insurance.
• A list of at least three references with contact information.
• A current fee schedule of billing rates for the tasks identified and individuals to be assigned to the work, including any reimbursable expenses.
• All proposals must be received at the Amherst Town Hall no later than February 26, 2021, at 4:00 p.m.  Questions shall be directed to Nic Strong, Community Development Director.
• Three copies of proposal and one electronic PDF copy clearly marked "Master Plan Consulting Services Proposal" to:

Town of Amherst
"Master Plan Consulting Services Proposals"
2 Main Street
Amherst, NH, 03031

Proposal review, evaluation and selection process
• Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated following the submission deadline using a quality based evaluation process.
• The Town will select a consultant based upon the submission items listed above, interviews, reference checks and any other information deemed pertinent by the Town.
• The Town may select one or more consultants for interviews.  The submission of a response does not guarantee an interview.
• The Town will negotiate contract terms upon selection.  All contracts are subject to review by Town Counsel and approval by the Board of Selectmen.

• Opt-Out Provision:  The Town of Amherst may terminate this contract at any time for any reason by giving at least thirty (30) days' notice in writing to the consultant.  If the contract is terminated by the Town of Amherst, as provided herein, the consultant will be paid a fair payment as negotiated with the Town of Amherst for the work completed and materials supplied as of the date of termination