GREENFIELD — A parking lot by day and a downtown community gathering space by night, the North Street Living Alley connects Main Street to North Street and is one of the first steps toward making downtown Greenfield more pedestrian-friendly, said Joanie Fitzwater, city of Greenfield zoning administrator.
At 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, a hot chocolate toast and ribbon cutting will be conducted to celebrate the opening of the new gathering space, an effort that’s been underway since 2014.
This week, the Daily Reporter caught up with Fitzwater about the progress of the project. Here’s an update:
1. What’s the goal?
The city’s downtown revitalization plan calls for the expansion of the central business district beyond State and Main into the outlying streets. It also calls for creating appealing pedestrian walkways to connect nearby neighborhoods to downtown. The North Street Living Alley is planned as the first leg of the Riley Literary Trail, which city officials hope will one day connect bicyclists and pedestrians using the Pennsy Trail to downtown shops.All of the revitalization efforts are meant to preserve the area’s historic architecture and celebrate its heritage while promoting development downtown. Organizers have long said that creating an attractive and vibrant downtown is key to attracting young professionals to the city and encouraging tourism.
2. What’s been done so far?
City officials have removed old asphalt, realigned parking spaces, installed two landscaped bump-outs and a crosswalk on Main Street (to shorten the pedestrian crossing). A brick stamped walkway leads people from Main to North streets, and the area is lined with landscaping and custom-made iron trellises. New light poles and string lighting decorate the gathering space near North St. Local artists Chris Sickels created banner art, and Greg Livengood created permanent musical instruments for people to play.3. What’s next?Greenfield Main Street, a volunteer community-driven effort to bring about positive change in Greenfield’s downtown for both its business owners and residents, will help to program events in the alley. These could include pop-up dinners, beer and wine events and festivals, etc.
4. What’s on the books?
Future programming of the alley includes the fourth annual Greenfield Fitness Festival in May, the second annual Hancock Flat 50 family bicycle tour ending at the Wooden Bear Brewery anniversary street party in September, and a beer garden during the 92nd annual Riley Festival in October.
What: Hot chocolate toast and ribbon cutting
When: 4:15 p.m. Nov. 16
Where: North Street Living Alley, just west of State Street downtown, from North Street to the parking lot of Lincoln Square Pancake House.