Community spaces awarded improvement funds in western Massachusetts

June 22, 2022 : WWLP, by Ashley Shook

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – MassDevelopment has awarded grants that total more than $420,000 to improve community spaces in Massachusetts.

Five communities in western Massachusetts receiving grants include Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Belchertown, and Great Barrington. The funds awarded through Commonwealth Places are used to revitalize downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts, such as new outdoor community spaces, public art exhibits, cultural events, and more.

• Belchertown Community Alliance was granted $8,000 for the design process of art to be displayed in one of the conservation areas.

• Chicopee Chamber of Commerce will receive $10,000 to install water and sewer access at Center Space in downtown Chicopee, which will allow Captain Jack’s Roadside Shack and three other food trucks to occupy the pocket park beginning summer 2022.

• Five large-scale murals are being installed in downtown Holyoke. Beyond Walls, Inc. was awarded $50,000 to support the installation ahead of Noche de San Juan Festival, an annual event held in June that celebrates Puerto Rican music, food, traditional crafts, and more.

• Gateway City Farmers Markets was awarded $14,602 to create a public space for food delivery in Brockton and Springfield.

• Ten new murals will be installed in Springfield’s Mason Square, Metro Center, and North End neighborhoods. Commonwealth Mural Collaborative was awarded $50,000 for Fresh Paint Springfield’s festival being held in September.

• Blues to Green, Inc. was awarded $50,000 for the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival being held in August.

• A tea shop in Great Barrington was awarded $10,160 to expand its outdoor space at the intersection of Pleasant and Main Streets in the Housatonic Village of Great Barrington. Extra Special Teas, a nonprofit that employs adults with special needs as servers, baristas, craft makers, content providers, and administrators, offers cultural and social events for residents and visitors.

“The Commonwealth Places program is an important resource designed to advance local projects that energize public spaces and welcome people to downtown neighborhoods and commercial districts,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to see MassDevelopment invest in bringing these community-led projects to fruition.”

“Community spaces, public art exhibits, and cultural events are at the heart of placemaking, and cities and towns across Massachusetts recognize the positive impact of these projects in supporting local economies and enhancing quality of life,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is pleased to award these Commonwealth Places grants to help organizations build capacity, engage residents and visitors, and implement projects that reimagine public spaces.”

The additional funds are awarded for projects in Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Ipswich, Lowell, New Bedford, and Salem.