AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A $75,000 grant was awarded to the Town of Amherst for the development of streetscape standards for the downtown area.

As part of the Department of Housing and Community Development’s ongoing program of grant awards, the Town has been awarded three grants so far this week, totaling over $1 million. 

In its downtown zoning districts, the Town develops design standards and dimensions regulations for the private realm to complement the grant work on streetscape standards. In collaboration with a consultant, the Town hopes to assess existing conditions, implement a community engagement plan, and develop streetscape standards and implementation strategies. 

Town Manager Paul Bockelman stated, “In early 2020 – before the pandemic – I presented “Destination: Amherst” to the Town Council.  It was a roadmap to improve our downtown that included a new playground, rejuvenated Town Common, and infrastructure improvements to make our downtown more economically viable and to build on our strengths as a center for restaurants, entertainment, retail, and – well, fun! We have worked successfully with the Business Improvement District and Chamber of Commerce and Town staff have been able to secure numerous grants totally well over $1 million to make infrastructure improvements to our sidewalks, crosswalks, outdoor dining, and public spaces. This most recent grant will develop streetscape standards for future infrastructure improvements we intend to make.” 

Amherst Planner Maureen Pollock added, “This grant will provide recommended streetscape standards for the Town to implement, and in turn, will lead to a more walkable downtown, allowing for more day-to-day interactions among residents, and attract more visitors to the downtown while enhancing Amherst’s growing tourism industry. This is an important opportunity for the Town to envision and design the downtown streetscape that is inclusive of all ages and abilities.” 

Grants for community planning projects are available through the Community Planning Grant Program. Community planning or zoning projects are considered for this competitive grant program in terms of their nexus with housing, transportation, infrastructure, economic development, and community development. 

A Development Continuum guides targeted investments based on a single application portal and collaborative review process for community and economic development grant programs. 

“Our administration has made partnering with cities and towns and fostering relationships with local leaders a priority, and through the One Stop we’ve been able to streamline their process of applying for grant programs while making the Commonwealth an active partner in local economic development strategy,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.