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Framingham Crowdfunding Campaign Aims To Build Pocket Park

May 13, 2019 : Patch, by Samantha Mercado

If the campaign can raise $50,000 MassDevelopment agreed to match the amount in a grant for the proposed Irving Street park.

A sketch shows the possibility of a small green space in Framingham's Downtown.
A sketch shows the possibility of a small green space in Framingham's Downtown. (City of Framingham) 

FRAMINGHAM, MA — A gravel lot downtown, surrounded by chainlink fencing could be Framingham's newest green space, but its fate is up to residents. The proposed park is located one block south of Irving Square in downtown Framingham. The city has teamed up with civic crowdfunding platform Patronicity and MassDevelopment to launch a Commonwealth Places campaign try to make the pocket park a reality.

Commonwealth Places provides a funding mechanism to advance community-driven place-making projects in downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts throughout Massachusetts. If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by June 30 at midnight, the project will win a matching grant with funds from MassDevelopment's Commonwealth Places program.

The campaign runs from May 1 through June 30. As of May 13, the project raised $14,720 from 45 patrons.

"A thriving downtown requires beautiful and vibrant public spaces for residents, visitors, and workers to enjoy," said Erika Jerram, Framingham's Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development. "South side residents want and need more green space and this park will be a great investment in our community."

The lot is 0.2-acres and located in a low-income neighborhood. It is also within a block of two large senior apartment buildings that have limited outdoor access. The plan for the park includes trees, benches, a winding path, flowers, a corner gathering place and a shade pergola. What makes this initiative different is that the design was left to residents. In October 2018, the City held a community design workshop where residents were led on a site visit, broke into groups and used cut-out pieces to design the future park. They then presented their recommendations to the larger group. A landscape architect from Copley Wolff synthesized the major wishes from the community and developed a conceptual design and budget.

The push for an Irving Street park is part of the city's reinvestment in the Downtown and Southside areas. "This park will be a welcome addition to all who live, work, or visit Framingham," said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. "In addition to activating a vacant lot, the park will serve as an inviting gateway to all the shops, restaurants, and amenities located downtown."

The campaign is 'all-or-nothing' so if the $50,000 is not raised by the community by the June 30 deadline, MassDevelopment won't match funds with a grant and all the funds donated to the campaign will have to be returned.

To promote the campaign the city has been holding 'Neighbor Nights,' partnering with local businesses to spread the word and raise money. The next scheduled Neighbor Night is Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Springdale Barrel Room. For each pint of their special beer sold, Springdale will donate $1 to the park.

If you would like to get involved you can donate directly online.