NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The park's still a bit under construction but the signs are up and the major work has a been completed for the NAMAzing Eagle Street Initiative.
On Wednesday evening during the annual Downtown Celebration, there was a pause to cut a blue ribbon strung between the brand-new eagle medallions marking the exit of the historic street.
"This has been a labor of love for literally hundreds of people," said project founder Benjamin Lamb, a city councilor. "Fifteen months ago, the NAMAzing Eagle Street Initiative embarked on a campaign to fundraise money to do a project to help invigorate Eagle Street. That meant everything from signage as you see these Eagle Street medallions, all the way to a park and a parklet to garbage cans.
"Everything you can imagine to help to make a place more usable and friendly to visitors and residents of the city."
The effort grew out of conversations between business, residents and supporters of Eagle Street and was funded with $35,871 in donations and a $25,000 matching MassDevelopment grant. The fundraising effort, done online through Patronicity, raised about $10,000 above its $25,000 goal.
Lamb said 225 people donated to the project, far more than expected, and even more gave hours and labor as volunteers whose "amount of time and energy is infinite."
The project included the just installed medallions designed and created by Neathawk Designs, which also did the hanging signs for businesses along the street. A popular portable parklet that's sparked a weekly coffee klatsch on Friday mornings was built by B&B Micro Manufacturing. Volunteers, including Rob Lyons and his family, helped with digging out the unused park where a building had burned and put in plantings and cobblestones from North Adams.
There are several arts installations, with a few yet to be put in, lighting, benches and new containers for trash and recyclables. The city's Department of Public Works aided in the installation of some of the fixtures, including the posts for the two medallions.
North Adams also received a 2018 Massachusetts Downtown Initiative award of $15,000 to bring in a consultant to work with all the Eagle Street businesses on retail visioning earlier this summer. Though not part of the initiative, it was done with the ongoing work in mind.
The city is also planning to use Community Development Block Grant funds to study if Eagle Street would be suitable to be a woonerf, shared pedestrian-vehicle street.
The goal was to bring some life to the historic but somewhat rundown one-way street.
"From the businesses who came together to make this a reality, from the parklet to the new signs to the art installations, it's all remarkable and it's evidence of a public/private partnership in the city of North Adams," said Mayor Thomas Bernard. "It's especially appropriate we do this today on a day when we celebrate our downtown and extend that celebration on to Eagle Street."
The occasion was the 22nd annual Downtown Celebration, when Main, Holden and Eagle streets are closed to traffic to make way for musicians, performances, vendors, food and fun. It was also, the mayor pointed out, the same time as the city's first Bike Rodeo and only days from the UNO Park celebration.
"It's a demonstration of what happens when people come together in community," he said.
The evening also featured a mixer for donors at Desperados and a free feasting table in the alleyway outside the restaurant for the community and provided by Desperados, Village Pizza and Jack's Hot Dogs. The band Bad Art played at the end of Eagle Street.
"We're very excited to see how far this project goes," Lamb said before snipping the ribbon. "This is not the end, this is the beginning.
"This is your Eagle Street, this my Eagle Street. Everyone belongs here, everyone is welcome to enjoy everything we can offer."
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