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Crowdfunding campaign aims to transform Fitchburg alley

May 3, 2019 : Sentinel & Enterprise, by Mina Corpuz

Mill Street, Fitchburg
A rendering shows how Mill Street in downtown Fitchburg could be transformed into a park with a music venue, public art and vendor space through the Commonwealth Places program and crowdfunding. (COURTESY OF JAMES CARRICO AND JOHN WAGNER)

FITCHBURG - Crowdfunding could transform the Mill Street alley in downtown into a park with public art, a temporary music venue and a street cart for vendors.

The Activate Mill Street campaign through MassDevelopment's Commonwealth Places program aims to turn the alley into a destination by bringing more foot traffic and tapping into entrepreneurial opportunities downtown.

"Placemaking projects like Activate Mill Street are a great way to build some low-cost, short-term wins toward that long-term change, and the momentum that is pushing Fitchburg, and its downtown, in a positive direction as a vibrant center for arts and culture," Mayor Stephen DiNatale said a statement.

The campaign will use the civic crowdfunding platform Patroncity and is a collaboration with MassDevelopment, the Fitchburg State University Foundation and Reimagine North of Main.

As of Friday afternoon, eight donors had given $5,340 to the Activate Mill Street project.

If the project reaches its $40,000 crowdfunding goal by June 30 at midnight, MassDevelopment will match funds for the initiative through the Commonwealth Project, which is a collaboration between the state finance agency and Patroncity.

In 2018, MassDevelopment announced $500,000 to fund the third year of the program.

Activate Mill Street will take place within the city's Transformative Development Initiative District, which is a MassDevelopment program to drive economic growth in Gateway Cities like Fitchburg.

The project would happen alongside other efforts that are underway downtown, which include the redevelopment of the Theater Block, City Hall, the Fitchburg Public Library and the Fitchburg Arts Community, DiNatale said.