NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Northampton has received one of the state’s biggest infrastructure investments this year. $2.5 million of your state tax money will help make Northampton’s Pleasant Street, more pleasant for residents, visitors and business owners, like Tess Poe of Beehive Sewing Studio.
“It’s so important for me to know that there’s an investment in making that part of Northampton a more walkable, more urban dense environment that really draws customers and visitors from all over,” Poe told 22News.
Northampton was one of just a few dozen communities in Massachusetts to receive money through the state’s highly competitive MassWorks program this year. 22News asked Massachusetts Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash why the city was overlooked for this grant money in 2015, but received one of the largest amounts this year.
- Westfield receiving $1.93 million for Route 20 improvements
- Rural towns awarded $9M in “MassWorks” grants for road repairs
- 3 western Mass. communities receive 2016 MassWorks Grants
- Ludlow receives $430K for Riverwalk improvements
“After the last round, talked to the mayor about what he could do to improve the application to move it ahead of others in line and we were all very supportive of the project,” said Secretary Ash. He said State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and Northampton State Representative Peter Kocot advocated for the city’s proposal to MassWorks.
Technically Pleasant Street is Route 5, a highway, but the goal of this infrastructure investment is to make it more like an extension of Main Street, just a few blocks down the road. Through that investment, there will be new sidewalks, making it more accommodating for people walking and biking. Mayor David Narkewicz told 22News he hopes the new rotary will divide Pleasant Street/Route 5 into two pieces: a busy highway before the rotary, and a city street with businesses and commerce after the rotary.
That’s important to support two major housing development projects on Pleasant Street that will create 125 new housing units and mixed-use space on the street. The first, HAPHousing’s Live155 is already under construction at 155 Pleasant Street. It’s expected to open by the end of 2017. Valley CDC’s plan to redevelop the abandoned lumber yard on Pleasant Street will likely be complete by 2018.
“It’s a great example of how the City can make investments in its infrastructure, and not only sidewalks, but also storm sewer infrastructure, to help leverage private investments,” said Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz.
During the announcement Monday morning at City Hall, Senate President Rosenberg said former U.S. President and Northampton resident Calvin Coolidge would be proud of the city on a day like this.
22News asked Mayor Narkewicz if this new affordable housing would house Syrian refugees moving to Northampton. He said if the refugees can afford the units, then perhaps, but not immediately, because the refugees will be arriving almost a year before the complexes are complete.