The award was announced Wednesday by NEA Chairman Jane Chu. It is one of 60 awards totaling $4.1 million for projects across the nation.
The City of Pittsfield's Office of Cultural Development is one of the recommended organizations for a grant of $75,000 to use for the design of the Westside Riverway Park in Pittsfield.
"The variety and quality of these Our Town projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country," Chu said in a statement. "Through the work of organizations such as the Cultural Development Office in Pittsfield, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are."
The site of the future Westside Riverway Park is located five blocks west of North Street, at the intersection of Dewey Avenue and Bradford Street, along the west branch of the Housatonic River. This grant will fund community design and planning sessions with the Westside Neighborhood Initiative and Working Cities Pittsfield Initiative, ultimately leading to the design of the park and related outdoor pavilions, including a pedestrian bridge, river overlook, open-air gathering spaces and a walking loop from North Street.
"The City of Pittsfield is home to both a vibrant arts and culture community and amazing natural resources," said Mayor Linda Tyer in a statement. "The NEA's award will continue the development of the Westside Riverway Park, a space that will offer our residents and visitors a dedicated and accessible space to enjoy Pittsfield’s natural beauty."
The vision for the Westside Riverway Park was first outlined in 2007, when Pittsfield took part in UrbanRiver Visions 2, a program through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to study the reuse of vacant and underutilized riverfront areas along the west branch of the Housatonic River.
Since that plan, the city has advanced preparatory work at the site through federal Community Development Block Grants and funds from the Environmental Protection Agency. Contaminated soils have been remediated and the land is ready to be developed.
The NEA Our Town Grant for the design of the park was spearheaded by local architects Tessa Kelly and Chris Parkinson in collaboration with the city's Office of Cultural Development and Office of Community Development. This is the second NEA Our Town grant that the Office of Cultural Development has received in partnership with Kelly and Parkinson — in 2014, the program launched The Mastheads writers residency, which features five mobile writing studios and ongoing community programming surrounding local literary heritage. Chu visited with the architects and viewed one of the writing studios last summer.
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