The Town of Amherst was awarded a grant of $75,000 to develop streetscape standards for the downtown area. This is the third grant awarded to the town this week by the Department of Housing and Community Development, with the three grants totaling over $1 million. The grant was coordinated and submitted by Amherst Planning Department staff.
The grant work on streetscape standards will complement the town’s other work developing design standards and dimensional regulations for the private realm in its downtown zoning districts. The Town hopes to work with a consultant to review existing conditions; execute a community engagement plan that seeks public input; and develop streetscape standards and implementation strategies.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman stated, “In early 2020 – before the pandemic – I presented “Destination: Amherst” to the Town Council. It was a roadmap to improve our downtown that included a new playground, rejuvenated Town Common, and infrastructure improvements to make our downtown more economically viable and to build on our strengths as a center for restaurants, entertainment, retail, and – well, fun! We have worked successfully with the Business Improvement District and Chamber of Commerce and town staff have been able to secure numerous grants totalling well over $1million to make infrastructure improvements to our sidewalks, crosswalks, outdoor dining, and public spaces. This most recent grant will develop streetscape standards for future infrastructure improvements we intend to make.”
Amherst Planner Maureen Pollock added, “This grant will provide recommended streetscape standards for the Town to implement, and in turn, will lead to a more walkable downtown, allowing for more day-to-day interactions among residents, and attract more visitors to the downtown while enhancing Amherst’s growing tourism industry. This is an important opportunity for the Town to envision and design the downtown streetscape that is inclusive of all ages and abilities.”
The Community Planning Grant Program provides funding for technical assistance for community planning projects. This competitive grant program awards funds based on the community planning or zoning project’s nexus with housing, transportation, infrastructure, economic development, and community development.
This program is part of the Community One Stop for Growth, a single application portal and collaborative review process of community and economic development grant programs that make targeted investments based on a development continuum.
“Our administration has made partnering with cities and towns and fostering relationships with local leaders a priority, and through the One Stop we’ve been able to streamline their process of applying for grant programs while making the Commonwealth an active partner in local economic development strategy,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.