Administration of Justice & Access to Justice
- State-wide Community Mediation Program: Legislative study (Outside Section 180 of FY12 budget) on community mediation and the design of a university-based framework for state operating grants to centers (report filed in FY12); exploration of potential establishment of foreclosure mediation program through pending MA foreclosure legislation in collaboration with community mediation centers and legal services.
- Funding Advocacy Workshop for Community Mediation Programs: MOPC presented a workshop on communicating the value of court and community mediation in building healthy safe communities drawing on the evidence-base of ADR research. The workshop engaged Community Mediation Program Directors and was based on a Working Paper prepared by MOPC on research-informed models for viewing ADR as a financial investment that benefits the courts and the state as a whole.
- Attorney General's Office and MA Association of Mediation Programs & Practitioners (MAMPP)— Cultural Competency Training for CIT Mediators: MOPC delivered cultural competency training for community program mediators who serve on Conflict Interventions Teams that intervene in schools when large-scale conflicts arise. MOPC collaborated with CIT mediators and the Attorney General's Office to tailor the training to the specific needs of this program.
- Collaborative Planning Meetings for Coalition of Community Mediation Programs: MOPC has been providing consultation and facilitation services in support of the Massachusetts Coalition of Community Mediation Programs. Recently, MOPC provided facilitation services to assist the Coalition with collaborative planning and decision-making about its identify and structure, and its message and communication strategy with legislators regarding the state budget process and securing public funding for their programs.
- Supreme Judicial Court (SJC): Through its membership on the SJC Standing Committee on Dispute Resolution from 1993 through 2004, MOPC helped to develop and implement the Uniform Rules on Dispute Resolution, system-wide standards governing dispute resolution services in the Trial Court, which set forth a structure for approving court-connected ADR programs and qualifying court-connected ADR neutrals.
- Trial Court Departments: For many years (1987-2002) MOPC operated successful ADR programs in the Suffolk, Norfolk and Plymouth Superior Courts and the Land Court. MOPC also consulted on the design and implementation of mediation and case conference programs in the Boston Municipal Court and on permanency mediation programs in the Juvenile Court and Probate & Family Court. Recently, MOPC conducted trainings and workshops for Superior Court conciliators in Worcester and Middlesex and Probate Court conciliators in Essex County.
Children & Families
- Department of Social Services Collaborative Procurement Reform: DSS engaged MOPC to convene and facilitate a consensus process to expand the dialogue and encourage creative thinking among DSS stakeholders on issues related to case and service management roles and responsibilities and the allocation of decision-making between DSS and its service providers. After conducting a stakeholder assessment, MOPC designed and facilitated a nine-week consensus process that involved a group of 26 stakeholder representatives (including DSS staff, providers and families). The group agreed on a set of recommendations to the DSS Commissioner which for use in a new DSS system of care procurement.
- Department of Early Education & Care Regulatory Reform: The newly formed EEC, which combined the functions of two state agencies, engaged MOPC to facilitate a series of meetings among staff to prepare a revised regulatory structure and to develop a workforce development plan. MOPC provided designed and managed consensus processes for both of these projects and provided facilitator services that assisted both project committees to complete their tasks efficiently.
Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture
- Coastal Access Legal and Mediation Service (CALMS) Training: MOPC conducted regional trainings for attorneys and community mediators focused on public policy mediation and legal issues involved in coastal access disputes. MOPC collaborated with the Dept. of Environmental Management, the Attorney General's Office and community mediation programs in eastern Massachusetts.
- Department of Telecommunications and Energy (DTE) ADR Program: Pursuant to electric industry deregulation legislation, MOPC worked with DTE to establish an ADR Program, in collaboration with ten community mediation programs that agreed to accept referrals for mediation of consumer complaints regarding electric bills and damage claims from interruptions in electric service. This collaboration enabled mediation services to be available to DTE consumers in their local communities.
- Chapter 61A Working Group Facilitation: MOPC facilitated a consensus agreement among stakeholders on the definition of agriculture for revisions to agricultural and conservation legislation affecting assessment and taxation of land used for horticultural purposes. Stakeholders included EOEA, MDAR, state legislators, municipal officials, farming membership organizations, and environmental groups.
- Coonamessett River Conflict Assessment: MOPC conducted a conflict assessment for a potential mediation process regarding the renewal of a lease of state-owned cranberry bogs to a private commercial concern. Issues involved farming practices and environmental impacts to the river. Stakeholders included state legislators, town officials, business owners, fishermen, environmental groups, political action groups and neighborhood associations.
- South Weymouth Naval Air Station: Since 1997, MOPC has been facilitating meetings of the South Weymouth Naval Air Station Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) whose purpose is to promote community awareness and provide public input on the environmental clean up of the former Naval Air Station. The RAB is comprised of citizen representatives from the five surrounding towns -- Quincy, Hingham, Weymouth, Abington, Rockland – and representatives from the MA DEP, U.S. EPA, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
- General Electric/Housatonic River Environmental Clean-up: Assisted by a MOPC mediator, in 1998 the General Electric Corp, the DEP, U.S. EPA, City of Pittsfield and other parties reached agreement over the clean-up of PCBs in the Housatonic River. GE agreed to proceed directly to clean up and the EPA agreed not to declare the site a Superfund site which would have resulted in years of litigation while the community waited with a contaminated river and related damage. Following the mediation, MOPC facilitated the Citizens Coordinating Council which served as the vehicle for community involvement in the implementation of the settlement agreement. The CCC included representatives of diverse interests in the region including GE, state and federal officials, and representatives of environmental organizations, local government, business and community groups. Because the clean up agreement extended into Connecticut, MOPC also facilitated meetings of a Connecticut CCC to address environmental impacts in that state.
- New Bedford Harbor Environmental Clean-Up: The New Bedford Harbor Superfund Forum, consisting of the citizens of New Bedford and neighboring towns, the U.S. EPA, the MA DEP, worked out an agreement through mediation for the clean-up of the PCB’s in the New Bedford Harbor. It was most significant that this agreement was acceptable to all rather than EPA’s initial decision to incinerate the PCB’s on site which was going to result in years of continued litigation. The Forum for many years continued to meet to monitor the monitoring the implementation of the mediated agreement. MOPC provided both the initial mediator for the Forum and the facilitator for the continued meetings.
- Harborlights/ Fleet Bank Pavilion Environmental Permits: In that case, Harborlights had found a new home on the harbor, but the permitting process, including appeals for obtaining DEP approvals, meant that Harborlights would not be able to open in time for the Spring/Summer season. Through a mediation set up by MOPC, the issues were fully explored among the parties and they were able to reach agreement. The parties to this successful mediation were: the Boston Shipping Association, Conservation Law Foundation, City of Boston/Boston Redevelopment Authority, DEP, Don Law Corporation, Save the Harbor Save the Bay, and the Boston Harbor Association.
- Widening of Route 2A in Lexington Project: Due to serious safety issues, the Town of Lexington and the Mass Highway Dept. proposed a project to widen a segment of Route 2A from a two-lane to a five-lane road. The project was contentious for more than a decade because the proposed widening would have affected nearby wetlands causing the Lexington Conservation Commission to deny the project a permit. The National Park Service, an abutter to the area, also had major concerns about the impact on the historic and scenic route. The City of Cambridge was involved because of the project’s impact on a watershed area for its water supply. The DEP had concerns about storm water run-off and other impacts. A MOPC mediator spent three months preparing the case for mediation and working with DEP to bring the parties to the table. The mediation involved nine sessions and resulted in an agreement that provided for an expanded roadway of four lanes with a vegetated shoulder, landscaping improvements on site, improvements elsewhere in the watershed intended to protect the water supply, and an additional detention basin. The parties agreed on a set of principles, which DEP was charged with implementing.
- No Mans Land Island: Since 2001, MOPC has been facilitating meetings of the Technical Review Committee (TRC) for No Mans Land Island in Chilmark, which was used for target practice in the 1950s by the U.S. Navy. The Navy is turning over the island to the MA Dept of Fisheries & Wildlife for use as a permanent wildlife habitat and the TRC is addressing environmental clean up issues. The TRC is comprised of the representatives from the MA DEP, MA Dept of Fisheries, Wildlife & Environmental Law Enforcement; MA Division of Marine Fisheries; MA Dept of Public Health, the U.S. EPA, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Town of Aquinnah, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head – Aquinnah.
- W.R. Grace-Cambridge Site: As part of the Public Involvement Plan (PIP) required under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, MOPC has provided a facilitator for public meetings dealing with environmental issues, including evaluation for asbestos in soil at the W.R. Grace site in Cambridge. These meetings involve representatives of the W.R. Grace, DEP, the Licensed Site Professional, the City of Cambridge, citizens from the Alewife Study Group, Alewife Neighbors, Legislators, and other interested members of the community and the immediate neighborhood.
- Emerald Necklace Park System: From 1999-2005, MOPC facilitated meetings of the Emerald Necklace Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) appointed by the Secretary of Environmental Affairs to provide feedback from the public on environmental impacts from the restoration of Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace Park System in Boston and Brookline. The CAC is comprised of 29 representatives from diverse interests including environmental organizations, business interests, landscape architects, historic preservationists, and community groups along the Riverway, who meet with project proponents from the Town of Brookline and City of Boston and state agencies such as DEP, DCR and the EOEA. The MOPC facilitator for this project worked with the CAC members in reaching consensus on their comments and recommendations to EOEA. The CAC successfully presented consensus documents on the Draft, Final and Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Reports for this important public project.
- Cape Cod National Seashore: The National Park Service manages the facilities and environmental protection of the Cape Cod National Seashore. In 1993, an impasse occurred over the revision of regulations governing the use of off-road vehicles and their impact on the nesting of an endangered bird, the piping plover. The Park Service sought the assistance of MOPC to determine if a regulatory negotiation (reg-neg) process would be a feasible tool for reaching consensus. MOPC assisted with the identification and selection of a mediator with reg-neg expertise and convened a process which involved 23 different parties. Three two-day negotiation sessions were conducted and resulted in a jointly-developed proposed regulation that was ratified by all affected parties and thereafter implemented.
- Plainville Sanitary Landfill: Plainville citizens, an operator of a landfill in Plainville, and the Department of Environmental Protection asked MOPC to facilitate discussions around issues concerning the closing and capping of the landfill and the study of whether any water or air pollution issues would impact local communities surrounding the landfill. Agreement was reached on closure and final capping of the landfill.
- Groveland: This fourteen year-old dispute over contamination of the Town of Groveland's aquifer involved several local companies charged with polluting the Town's drinking water supply. The Town wanted to determine responsibility for the pollution and how the cost of clean up would be paid, while the local companies wanted to constructively contribute to the solution of a complex environmental and health problem without conceding liability. During an eight-month period, using a unique, custom-designed mediation process, MOPC successfully mediated a settlement, saving the parties years of further litigation, hundreds of thousands of dollars in avoided fees and court costs. Under the mediated settlement, the Town of Groveland received over one million dollars over six years to upgrade its water supply.
- Neponset Reservoir: At the request of the City of Boston and its contractor, and in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Protection, MOPC facilitated a public meeting dealing with studies conducted on the composition of reservoir soils and water of the Neponset Reservoir.
Health & Human Services
- Executive Office for Health and Human Services Interagency Review Teams: MOPC worked with EOHHS to develop and deliver a training plan for Regional Planning and Review Teams (PRT) comprised of senior staff from EOHHS agencies -- DSS, DMH, DMR, DPH, DYS, DTA, Mass Health -- and family representatives to facilitate interagency collaboration and problem-solving on complex and problematic child welfare cases. The plan involves facilitation, collaborative problem-solving and conflict resolution skills trainings for PRT members in order to build capacity for the success of these interagency teams.
- Department of Mental Retardation Complaint Resolution System: MOPC assisted DMR with the creation of a complaint resolution system. MOPC facilitated workgroups with stakeholders, including: DMR staff, providers, families, advocates, and self-advocates. The groups developed models that were used by DMR in creating the final design of the system.
- Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Mediation Program: MOPC consulted with the MRC on the design and administration of a mediation program to handle disputes arising from the provision of vocational rehabilitation services to applicants or eligible individuals. MOPC trained MRC staff in mediation to support the program.
- Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Workplace ADR Program: MOPC worked with the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and the International Brotherhood of Correctional Offices to design an ADR Program called for in their collective bargaining agreement, a program to be jointly administered by union and management, and provided training to assist with program implementation.
Transportation & Land Use
- Massachusetts Housing Finance Authority (MHFA): Tenant Assistance Project Mediation Program: MOPC collaborated with MHFA, MAMPP and five community mediation programs representing various regions on a housing mediation program. The community programs provided mediation services and training to management companies and tenants at MHFA housing sites, and MOPC provided project design, oversight and evaluation.
- Beverly Airport: MOPC facilitated a public meeting to discuss the impacts of a proposed development near the Beverly Airport. The meeting included the municipal officials, the developer, and a broad spectrum of other stakeholders.
- Barrett Street Brook—Northampton: A mediated dispute involving the City of Northampton, a major supermarket chain, the Department of Environmental Protection, and a group of neighbors resulted in an agreement enabling the city's new fire station project to go forward.
- Renovations to Recreational Space on Columbia Point: In 2006-2007 MOPC facilitated a community charrette regarding renovations to Mt. Vernon Street and helped launch stakeholder action teams to implement ideas generated at the charrette. MOPC is currently facilitating meetings of the Youth Action Team to enable collaborative planning to design and implement renovations to the physical space on Mount Vernon Street, including a basketball court, baseball field and playground. Stakeholders include residents from Harbor Point Housing Development, students from McCormack School, institutions on Columbia Point such as UMass Boston, Boston College High School, the Walter Denny Youth Center, the Geiger-Gibson Community Health Center and Corcoran-Jenison Companies. This project follows up on a HUD Community Outreach and Partnership Centers grant secured through the College of Community & Public Services at UMass Boston.
- Executive Office for Administration and Finance MRI Facilitators: The Managing for Results Initiative (MRI) launched by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (ANF) was designed to identify each agency’s mission and goals and to improve the operation of government by soliciting and implementing employee ideas. MOPC worked with ANF to develop a training curriculum and presented ten 1-day facilitation skills trainings throughout the state for over 80 executive branch agency staff who had been designated as MRI facilitators. The goal of these trainings was to enhance the skills of these state employees so that they could become effective facilitators for their agencies in meeting MRI requirements.
- Working Paper on Financial Models for Public Funding of ADR: MOPC conducted a literature review and prepared a working paper on research-informed models for viewing court-connected ADR as a financial investment and presented a workshop for court personnel and community mediation programs on communicating the value of court and community mediation in building healthy safe communities drawing on the evidence-base of ADR research.
- Evaluation of Peer Mediation Programs: MOPC conducted an evaluation for Metropolitan Mediation Services in order to review the objectives of its SCORE peer mediation programs in four schools in the Boston area, gather evidence which can be used to demonstrate the impact of the SCORE program especially with respect to the school climate, and provide insight into conditions within the schools that helped or hindered success in conducting the program.