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Dunham Mall Project Passes First Fundraising Milestone
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:47AM / Thursday, June 20, 2024
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The cooperative effort to raise funding for Dunham Mall has the goal of turning the bland walkway into a more inviting public area.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Planners reimagining Dunham Mall have pivoted to a phased approach and have surpassed their first fundraising goal.

In a couple of months, the effort has raised $8,400 — over the first milestone of $7,500 that will bring basic enhancements to the corridor. Some cafe lights have already been installed. 

"We're going to move away from the concepts that you've seen before and rather have the amount that we can fund raise help determine what we can accomplish in the space," Nicholas Russo of the Pittsfield Community Design Center reported in a social media announcement last month.

"When we reach the goal of $7,500, we can start with some great basic enhancements like new cafe lighting, trash receptacles, wayfinding, and some tree planters as well and we're already talking with the city of Pittsfield Department Public Services to start some basic improvements of things that are already here."

Feedback has changed the project from stylized design concepts to the new approach.  

"Rather than seeing concepts, you'll see an idea board about things that we hope to accomplish with the amount of fundraising that we receive," Russo said about the fundraiser's website.

"It'll help us visualize about what we can do in the space based on the things that you've told us and the more we fundraise, the more we can accomplish."

The fundraising effort concludes July 5. The project is a collaboration between the city, the Downtown Pittsfield Cultural Association, MassDevelopment's Transformative Development Initiative, Downtown Pittsfield Inc., and the grassroots Pittsfield Community Design Center.

Through the TDI, the project has secured $52,000 through a $35,000 Commonwealth Places matching grant, $15,000 from Pittsfield Beautiful, and $2,000 from NBT Bank's partnership with the Let It Shine! public art program.

The fundraiser was launched to fill the $18,000 gap, as the $35,000 state grant needs to be matched by the community. Every community dollar (up to $15,000) will be matched twice. Berkshire Lightscapes will match $15,000 for Lightscapes internally.

"When we reach $20,000, we'll be able to do everything I just listed plus add some new bollards to create a safe divider for the space, some edge planting to soften the hardscape, some more tree and shrub tubs and some mobile planters to create dividers and programming spaces for Dunham Mall," Russo explained.

"If you help us go all the way to $35,000 donated, which will be doubled by Commonwealth Places, we can budget for some amazing equipment like green benches, permanent seating with planting enhancements, and a public art installation as well."

Planners began soliciting feedback in January with a tight schedule of less than six months before implementation. The community gathered at Hot Plate Brewing Co. in February to weigh in on downtown needs that the design can address.

Dunham Mall, located next to the Agricultural Building at 100 North St., connects North Street to City Hall through a lighted, paved pathway. In its heyday, it included art installations and a fountain that children could play in. Burbank Place, also included in the project, connects North Street to the McKay Street garage, which is significant when talking about parking issues downtown.

Downtown Pittsfield became a TDI district a couple of years ago after the initiative was successfully applied to Tyler Street. TDI concentrates economic development activities, resources, and investments within designated neighborhood areas for a term of two to four years. The districts are mixed-use with a commercial component, compact, and defined by a walkable, dense physical environment.

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