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Fitchburg receives $10,000 state grant to boost public spaces

September 24, 2020 : Sentinel & Enterprise, by Daniel Monahan


FITCHBURG — Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that Fitchburg was awarded a $10,000 grant to facilitate outdoor retail and entertainment in the city’s Riverfront Park area.

The grant is part of $86,415 awarded to 10 communities across the state through the Commonwealth Places program. The projects will be used to increase interest in local shopping and restaurants.

“The Commonwealth Places program is a tool to help drive foot traffic to downtowns and commercial districts by providing opportunities for safe dining and recreation and we look forward to continuing to work with municipalities to support local communities across the state,” Baker said.

According to MassDevelopment, which offers the program, the funding was made available to assist local economic recovery efforts as communities prepare public spaces and commercial districts to serve the public.

Projects receiving awards during this round of funding include the creation of outdoor dining spaces, sidewalk retail venues, and partitions to support social distancing.

“Our Commonwealth Places program has been a resource to help communities implement placemaking projects that improve public spaces, create foot traffic, and stimulate economic activity,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss.

In Fitchburg, the project will focus on outdoor retail and entertainment in the Riverfront Park area, including along Mill Street and Main Street.

ReImagine North of Main will use the funds to buy a movie screen and projector, a portable PA system, an FM transmitter, a generator, hand-washing stations, and coolers and heating stations.

All of the equipment will be used to support vendors, artists, and musicians at outdoor events.

Created in 2016, Commonwealth Places aims to engage and mobilize community members to make individual contributions for place-making projects, with the incentive of a funding match from MassDevelopment if the crowdfunding goal is reached.

In June 2020, MassDevelopment announced the availability of $225,000 in funding for the Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places.