GREENFIELD — Construction to turn a downtown alley into an area fit for festivals is slated to begin this spring.
Greenfield city officials are weighing two bids of about $107,500 for the project and expect to select a construction company April 5, with construction launching soon after.
The goal is to turn an alley between North and Main streets into a place for the community to gather — right now, it’s used for parking for visitors to downtown businesses.
Plans call for the area to feature greenery, landscaping and artwork. Trellises draped with Boston Ivy and other greenery will adorn the west side of the alley, festival lights will be hung, a pedestrian path will be built and curb bump-outs will be added along Main Street to slow traffic for pedestrians crossing the busy thoroughfare, planning director Joanie Fitzwater said.
Once construction is complete, it will still offer more than a dozen parking spaces. Additionally, it will give the community a place to host festivals to draw residents downtown, where officials hope to see more shopping and retail in the next few years as outlined by a 2013 plan to revitalize downtown.
Members of the Greenfield Coalition and the Hancock County Arts Council are working together to identify what type of art will adorn the alley.
The city received a $44,500 grant for the North Street Living Alley from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs; the Hancock County Tourism Commission and the city of Greenfield are chipping in about $65,000.
Fitzwater said she expects the project to be complete by September, and Greenfield Main Street Inc. is already eyeing the space for a number of community festivals and programs.
Shelley Swift, program manager of Greenfield Main Street, said because State Road 9 and U.S. 40 run through downtown, finding places for downtown festivals can be difficult. The North Street Living Alley will help to maximize downtown space, she said.
The project is the first major undertaking of the Greenfield Coalition, which in 2014 brought together community stakeholders to give life to the city’s 2013 downtown revitalization plan, which includes a food district; a health and fitness district; and pedestrian-friendly promenades with residential, retail and commercial space. City officials also plan to pursue grants to give the facades of downtown buildings a face-lift.
Ultimately, city officials want to create a Riley Literary Trail to run from the Pennsy Trail through downtown Greenfield. The trail would be loosely based on the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis. The group hopes the North Street Living Alley’s pedestrian path will serve as the first leg of the trail.
Fitzwater said she’s thrilled the projecting is preparing to take off after the coalition spent more than a year working on it.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing the impact it will have on future projects and the ability to enjoy our downtown more and make it more walkable,” she said.