PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It's time to build the better block.
MassDevelopment brought in Team Better Block to run the economic development exercise on Tyler Street. The plan is to completely revamp the section between Smith Street and Cortland Place, filling up the storefronts, improving mobility, slowing traffic, and sprucing up the aesthetics.
"This is not a block party, this is an economic development demonstration," Amequsika 'Sika' Sedzro, who is the city's fellow through the MassDevelopment Transformative District Initiative.
In June, Better Block met with dozens of residents to get ideas of what they'd like Tyler Street to look like in the future. A plan was crafted to bring those ideas to life in one section, for one day. The effort takes the ideas and concepts and puts them into reality for a single day to show what is possible, and spur more life into redevelopment efforts.
"That has helped facilitate new conversations with the property owners and we are hoping it will lead to new activation and leases," Sedzro said.
That section has a number of vacant store fronts now and includes the former Cafe Reva, Fin and Feather, the Hess Gas Station, and the Tyler Street fire house.
Better Block's conceptual plan is to bring vendors into the spaces, install bicycle lanes, create a beer garden at the closed fire station, transform the gas station into a mini-golf course, add parklets, paint crosswalks, bring in more plants and more art. Sedzro said about 22 people from the community submitted applications to fill up spaces.
"We went through a rapid planning process. That usually takes a year and we took two months to make it happen," Sedzro said.
And now comes build week: next Wednesday building it all out starts. The full plan is available below.
"Right now we are in the final stages. We are out there cleaning up storefronts. We are still looking for volunteers," Sedzro said.
On Wednesday from 5 until 7 p.m., murals will be added, new wayfinding signs put in place, and storefronts cleaned. That night, from 7 until 9 p.m. planter boxes will be built and storefront facades worked on.
On Thursday, the 5 p.m. session will feature setting up the pop-up shops, building a stage for music, and creating parklets. The 7 p.m. build continues setting up the shops, builds a fence for the beer garden, and mini-golf and a lemonade stand constructed.
On Friday, there will be five different build sessions throughout the day starting at 8 a.m. The work includes building a cycle track, a street median, painting crosswalks and bump outs, creating transit stops and a ramp, building bicycle parking, and continuing with the pop-up shops.
"We are focused on both the right of way and the storefronts," Sedzro said. "We are trying to see what it needs to actually do activation."
And the group is still looking for volunteers to help with the building — particularly a couple who own trucks to help transport material. Sedzro said right now there are 60 people signed up to help and some local companies are planning to bring in teams of employees as well.
On Saturday, Aug. 26, the Morningside Community will get a taste of what is possible throughout the entire street. The one-day event goes from noon until 7 p.m. That day will also feature the unveiling of a new mural on the wall of the Goodwill building.
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Pittsfield Students Receive Superintendent Award
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Emily Mazzeo and Alexander Currie have received the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendent's Award.
Superintendent Jason McCandless began Wednesday's School Committee with a presentation honoring two of the highest achieving students in the school system.
"This is one of my personal favorite things of the entire school year and these awards," he said. "We have a remarkable run here in Pittsfield of not only recognizing unbelievable distinguished intellects but unbelievable work ethics."
McCandless first brought Mazzeo, who attends Pittsfield High School, to the podium and read a letter from one of her teachers.
Mayoral candidates Linda Tyer and Melissa Mazzeo sparred over education during a debate hosted by the Pittsfield Educational Administrators Association and United Educators of Pittsfield on Tuesday night. click for more
The center's Executive Director Ben Sosne gave a brief update to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority last week and said board should expect a grand opening in the first half of January.
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The international home decor company's new $5 million call center will employ upwards of 300 people in the coming months in a newly renovated section of the Clock Tower Building fully furnished, of course, with Wayfair products.
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