Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities Program funded improvements to the First Street Commons in Pittsfield, a park that had previously fallen into disrepair. At a ceremony today outside the park, state and city officials gathered to officially open the new gateway entrance to the Commons.
The group of 24 post-industrial cities in Massachusetts have been at the center of the development program undertaken by Governor Deval Patrick. Today’s occasion marked a completed project in the program’s commitment to preserving open spaces in Gateway Cities. Secretary of the Executive Office Environmental Affairs Richard Sullivan spoke at the event. He said that the Governor’s Office will continue with the Gateway Cities Program and to assist with projects of all classifications throughout the state.
Secretary Sullivan also mentioned that the Gateway Cities Program will be preserving open spaces in all recognized communities.
The first stage of the park revitalization program, including the new entrance way and a new playground cost 1.7 million dollars. The entire renovation project will cost around 4.6 million dollars. The next phase of the project will include expanded walkways, new basketball courts, bathrooms, and a gazebo.
Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi said that the city will undertake efforts to make the park a community-oriented space in the city by working with local schools and the public.
Governor Deval Patrick has also pledged $10 million in his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal to invest in education programs in the Gateway Cities, an initiative he says is critical to closing the achievement gap in students from different socio-economic background across the state.
3rd Berkshire District Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier said that the funding awarded to the Pittsfield Commons marks a victory for the people of the city that came together and help secure funding for what she called “shovel-ready” projects in the area.
Gateway Cities must have an average household income below the state average, have a population between 25,000 and 350,000, and meet certain education requirements.