The largest city in the Berkshires has received state funding to continue its restoration of a downtown greenspace. The grant is part of a multi-million effort to improve parks in cities across the Massachusetts. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…
The First Street Common located in downtown Pittsfield has historically been a hub for the people of the city, but in recent years had become neglected and ill-maintained. Jim McGrath is Pittsfield’s park, open space and natural resources program manager…
Phase 1 of the Common’s face lift was completed last May, after $1.7 million dollars including contributions from the state’s Gateway Cities program went to improvements including building a new entranceway on adjacent First Street. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan attended a ribbon-cutting event for the park last Spring and spoke about the importance of redeveloping green spaces in post-industrial city centers like Pittsfield.
Last week, Secretary Sullivan announced $2.2 million grants through the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities Program for Western Massachusetts. Agawam, Holyoke, Northampton, South Hadley, Springfield, and Ware received awards up to $400,000 to upgrade and maintain city green spaces. Pittsfield will use its share of $400,000 to help complete Phase 2 of the First Street Common project.
In addition, solar compacting trash bins will be placed in the park, and a new rain garden may be installed. A gazebo and restrooms are also planned for the Common.
McGrath says that the totaled $4.6 million dollar project of improving the Common is one more step in the city’s revitalization efforts, which included a multi-million dollar downtown streetscape renovation.
The EEA is awarding a total of $8 million through the PARC program to 25 cities across the Commonwealth with preference given to park projects located close to urban centers and public transportation or serving environmental justice populations.