The Town of Amherst has been selected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the National Park Service to receive up to $827,065.50 in federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant assistance for the revitalization of the North Common in Amherst.
The project will completely transform an approximate 1-acre area of the Town Common bounded by Spring Street, South Pleasant Street, Main Street and Boltwood Ave. The effort is the result of years of public input and will activate the area for residents, visitors, downtown businesses, and the broader community.
The work includes adding new accessible walkways, improved lighting, gathering areas with tables and chairs, central space for small performances, a plaza in front of Town Hall, planting of new shade trees, rain gardens/storm water infiltration areas, and spaces for public art.
Local funding for the project comes from Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds that have been approved for recreation and historic preservation purposes. Since 2016 the Town has approved over $1 Million for this project, which is now being used to match the LWCF grant. The CPA funds, voted in phases, have been instrumental in moving this project forward, from initial concept designs and public outreach to paying for construction.
“The Baker-Polito Administration continues to foster strong partnerships with municipalities and the federal government in order to accomplish goals and initiatives that greatly benefit the public, like the revitalization of the Town of Amherst’s North Common area,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “By working together, whether through the Land and Water Conservation Fund or the filing of the FORWARD Act, which seeks to invest in every Commonwealth city and town, we will safeguard and enhance the state’s infrastructure and resources now and well into the future.”
Amherst Council President Lynn Griesemer noted "This is an outstanding award to the Town made possible by the hard work of our Town staff in seeking grants that help fund projects that are important to the Town’s revitalization."
Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek said, “We are extremely excited and grateful to receive grant funding through the LWCF Program for this important initiative. Town committees and boards, staff and community members have been working for more than 10 years on this transformative project. The design will honor the history of the North Common while creating a beautiful and accessible space for the entire community.”
Executive Director of the Amherst Business Improvement District Gabrielle Gould added, “Returning this area to the people and creating a stunning center of our town continues to build on the many "game changers" we are striving for to bring Amherst back post-pandemic better, more equitable, and destination-worthy for visitors and residents alike.”
The LWCF grant supports construction of the project, which is to begin in spring 2023 and expected to be completed by June of 2024. Currently, the project is in the final design phase with bidding expected late this year. A project webpage on the Town’s website will provide updates.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Grant Program is administered by Massachusetts on behalf of the National Park Service (NPS), an agency of the Department of the Interior.
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