PITTSFIELD – Monday, December 15, 2014 – Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett and Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi today celebrated the ribbon-cutting of the newly restored of the First Street Common. Over the course of the Patrick Administration, over $6 million has been invested in parks and open space in Pittsfield.
“Open space and outdoor recreation investments are a critical component of building robust, healthy communities,” said Secretary Bartlett. “Governor Patrick has made urban neighborhoods a top priority and the evidence of that is clear today in Pittsfield and across the Commonwealth.”
Mayor Bianchi said, “The common is a beautiful park with historical value. As a large, central park in Pittsfield, the renovation will provide attractions for the whole community. It will give kids who live downtown area access to nice recreational activities, including a spray park. The First Street Common will also act as a focal point for cultural activities which will certainly enhance the lives of people in Pittsfield and surrounding communities as well. We already have a performance group planning a series of events for the 2015 summer season in the gazebo and this will be complimented by many other groups as well. I want to thank Governor Patrick and Secretary Bartlett for their continued support of this significant urban park project.”
The First Street Common is the largest recreational park area in downtown Pittsfield and only large, accessible public open space that serves the Morningside neighborhood. Over the last five years, EEA has invested over $4 million to help make First Street Common a vibrant green space in the center of downtown Pittsfield, capable of both hosting large cultural events and providing a safe, fun place for Morningside residents to play and relax.
The final phase of construction was funded with a $1,918,000 grant from the Governor’s Signature Urban Parks program. This grant funded the relocation a basketball court and installation of a new spray park, shade structure and performance pavilion. Prior to that investment, EEA provided $2.1 million in funding to the City of Pittsfield for the First Street Common, in the form of a Gateway City Parks Program grant and a Parkland Acquisition and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant. This funding paid for the redesign and construction of a new playground, full site grading to achieve a consistent grade throughout the park, new drainage piping and structures, new wide paved pathways, electrical work, lawn work, 30 new large shade trees and solar compacting trash bins. The City has invested over $700,000 in the project.
Pittsfield is one of seven cities to receive funding through the Governor’s Signature Urban Parks program. Through these projects, the Patrick Administration seeks to revitalize urban communities by opening up, or upgrading, green spaces for outdoor recreation and improving access to natural resources such as waterways and historic neighborhood landmarks.
To highlight the Patrick Administration’s strong commitment to recreation in the Commonwealth’s cities, Secretary Bartlett toured investments across the state during the month of December with visits to Beverly, Boston, Newton and Lawrence, as well as remaining visits planned for Springfield, Worcester and Peabody.
"The newly restored First Street Common is now the jewel of Pittsfield's park system. Children, families and our entire community will benefit from this investment for years to come," said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing.
"This project is an example of city and state officials working together for urban land preservation,” said Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier “The Common now offers Pittsfield residents and visitors of all ages a beautiful downtown park where they can enjoy a variety of activities. "
Since taking office, Governor Patrick has made a historic investment of more than $360 million in land conservation focused on three goals: investing in urban parks, preserving working farms and forests and protecting large natural landscapes for habitat. This investment has resulted in the permanent protection of more than 125,000 acres of land and the renovation or creation of more than 210 parks. The new parks and open space created are within a 10 minute walk of 1.5 million residents – about a quarter of the Commonwealth’s population. For the 26 Gateway Cities, the new conservation land and parks are within a 10 minute walk of over 500,000 residents – about 33% of all residents.