City commits future park event funding

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The new Depot Street Park hosted several free community concerts in 2022.

Daily Reporter file photo

GREENFIELD – City officials are committing nearly $225,000 over the next five years for outdoor events, including the continuation of a concert series at a new park.

More than 8,500 people attended four free Saturday night concerts that were part of the inaugural Live @ The Rails at the new Depot Street Park last year.

“In 2021 when Depot Street Park was being built and the parks department was charged with programming the new park, I don’t think anyone could have predicted how successful and well-attended our programming was, like we saw this past year,” said Ellen Kuker, Greenfield parks director, at a Greenfield City Council meeting this week.

Kuker added that over 600 people came to five outdoor movies the parks department screened last year, one of which was at Depot Street Park.

She recalled how in 2021 the city supported an entertainment fund for its first year of 2022 with $45,000, and supported it this year with $40,000.

Plans for this year are underway, Kuker continued, adding that Live @ The Rails will consist of six concerts in 2023 – two more than last year – complete with a warm-up and main act. The parks department will also screen six outdoor movies this year, two of which at Depot Street Park.

“These events are important to our city for many reasons,” Kuker said. “It brings our community together. It’s entertainment in our own backyard, so money is spent here in our community. It’s a sense of pride for Greenfield to be able to offer such a quality experience in an amazing venue.”

Kuker told the Daily Reporter that agreements are being finalized and that this year’s Live @ The Rails acts will be announced soon.

The city council voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance on first reading transferring funds the city receives from the county economic development income tax to the entertainment fund. The allocations are $40,000 for 2024, $42,500 for 2025, $45,000 for 2026, $47,250 for 2027 and $50,000 for 2028.

“We have a year track record of proven success with that program, and we’ve had literally thousands of people show up to enjoy a brand new venue and a new park,” Greenfield City Council President Dan Riley told the Daily Reporter.

He added that as he and Mayor Chuck Fewell meet with businesses considering moving to the city, they often ask about amenities and quality of life.

“You get a choice when it comes to growth, and you can choose to try to stop it, which isn’t ever going to succeed, especially given our geographic spot,” Riley said. “We’re in a high-growth area of the state, so what you want to do is you want to control it and make it the best possible way that you can.”

The funding the city is committing does not go to the Friday night concert series at Depot Street Park organized by Greenfield Banking Company.