|Pittsfield Celebrates Completion of North St. Project|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
05:24PM / Thursday, July 26, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Local and state officials marked the completion of the latest phase of the downtown streetscape project as an example of collaborative investing to revitalize and attract business.
||Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, Mayor Daniel Bianchi and Downtown Inc. President Robert Proskin cut the 'ribbon' on the newly renovated North Street. Murray, left, said public and private interests had to work together to create jobs and investment.
"It has already started paying dividends," said Mayor Daniel Bianchi, before snipping a yellow "caution" ribbon outside the Beacon Cinema on Thursday afternoon. He pointed to Dominion Resources down the street "that moved to Pittsfield because they wanted to be part of what's going on. We're very excited about the activity."
The North Street phase of the streetscape project was funded largely through state and federal grants, including a $1.2 million MassWorks grant. The construction encompassed new paving, traffic lights, sidewalks, decorative lane dividers, bumpouts and decorative lighting. It continues the street renovations that began on South Street and ends at the Scelsi Intermodal Center.
"This will pay for itself many times over," said Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, on hand for the ribbon cutting. He described Pittsfield as an example to other so-called Gateway Cities in its investments in the creative economy and attractions to business.
"A lot of the conversation out there wants to try to pit the public sector and the private sector against each other," said the former Worcester mayor afterward. "But anything that I've learned in my time in government is that the only way you bring meaningful change, create jobs and solve problems is working together in a public-private partnership."
The partnership included the efforts of Downtown Pittsfield Inc., a nonprofit agency made up of downtown business and cultural leaders.
"This project demonstrates how a small group of volunteers, called Downtown Pittsfield Inc., can help to create big results thorugh its efforts and its partnerships," said President Robert A. Proskin
The project had been planned years ahead of its time, he said, and had been gathering dust on a shelf for lack of funds and purpose. The construction of the Beacon Cinema and the move downtown by Barrington Stage Company had helped kick start the process.
The transformation, said Proskin, could be summed up in one word: "Wow."
"It really makes this whole area come alive," he said. "This is how we want all of our visitors, employees and resident to be greeted every day ... businesses and residents are choosing to be here."
Bianchi thanked the business community for its support during "chaos" of construction, joking that he'd run for mayor because his office on North Street was too close to the constant work.
Laurie Mick, Mayor Bianchi and Donna Mattoon.
Both Bianchi and Proskin also pointed to the liasion work of Laurie Mick of the Department of Community Development in bringing the project to fruition.
"We have been blessed to be supported by the business community in the downtown," said Bianchi to a crowd of representatives from city and state agencies and local businesses, including City Councilors Anthony Simonelli and Barry Clairmont, 1Berkshire Vice President Lauri Klehfos and state Department of Transportation District 1 Director Peter Niles.
"Everybody seems so delighted with the way it came out, the plantings, the sidewalks the furnishings ... and the new benches," said the mayor. "It has really helped to turn Pittsfield around."
Bianchi pledged to find ways to continue the street project and spoke of the work being done at the William Stanley Business Park and market-rate housing being developed downtown, with help from state and federal government.
"There has to be a collaboration between private business and government," he said. "And a lot of poeple will be critical of subsidies for various projects but that's how you make things work."