A Strong History of Planning

This document is the latest milestone in the community’s long history of appreciating and  implementing planning. Keene adopted one of the country’s first zoning codes in January 1927, and today the community has in place nearly 20 area- or topic-specific plans. However, the community embraced planning as early as 1736, when it decided to accommodate new development by doubling the size of the city’s central artery (now Main Street) from four rods to eight. In the late 19th century, under the leadership of George Wheelock, the community embarked on a program that created parks and open spaces throughout the city, including Dinsmoor Woods (1886), Wheelock Park (1886), Ladies Wildwood Park (1887) and Robin Hood Park (1888). Other examples of the community’s planning decisions include beautifying downtown, creating Black Brook Corporate Park, and focusing development within the area bounded by the 9/10/12 Bypass and Route 101.

Keene has a reputation for being the first to take new and creative approaches towards solving community issues. From the early decisions on placement of the community meeting house and planting elm trees in Central Square – now recognized as one of America’s Best Great Public Spaces (2009 American Planning Association) – to addressing contemporary issues like climate change and community sustainability, the community continues to be recognized within the region, the state, the nation, and throughout the world for its innovative, practical efforts and solutions.

Over time, Keene’s appreciation of planning and strong citizen engagement in civic matters has created a community intensely concerned about its people and its future. They have also created a community with a distinctive identity and high quality of life, thanks to careful consideration and implementation of previous plans by the active and involved residents of the community and region.