SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Local leaders gathered in Springfield Friday to announce the return of outdoor dining to the city.

Mayor Domenic Sarno joined the city’s chief development officer to unveil a new grant program for local businesses to boost their outdoor services. Ranging from $25,000 to $250,000 these grants are fueled by more than $2.5 million in ARPA funding.

The intent of the program is to create new or significantly refurbished outdoor dining and event spaces that also help to increase the walkability and foot traffic in neighborhood centers. These projects can include landscape, hardscape, outdoor furniture, and accessibility improvements needed for an outdoor area.

Restaurants and non-profit organizations in need of assistance with developing space for outdoor dining/events can apply on the City of Springfield’s website by May 5th at 2 p.m.

Mayor Sarno states, “Outdoor dining has been a huge and successful program and my administration is proud to continue with this very successful and popular initiative which brings a sense of vibrancy for our dining establishments so that they can create more open spaces to enjoy the seasonable weather.  To continue to building upon this positive economic engine for our city, CDO Tim Sheehan and our dedicated team at Eco Dev will establish and administer this new grant program to assist local restaurants and nonprofit organizations with improving the ability of their patrons to dine and gather outdoors.  This initiative, along with my administrations ‘Prime the Pump’ and ARPA grants, which has pumped in millions of dollars to not only help these establishments survive and stabilize during this COVID-19 pandemic but now to thrive.  Coupled with the many DPW infrastructure enhancements made to accommodate these establishments to increase outdoor spaces, walkability and foot traffic, all helped many of our local restaurants during the pandemic we continue to be business friendly.”

“This program responds directly to the public health concerns and mitigation strategies developed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said CDO Sheehan. “We believe creating more outdoor spaces will increase local business, offer new options for patrons, and improve neighborhood vitality.”

“Small businesses are the economic backbone of our neighborhoods.  My administration remains committed to their full economic recovery and we are happy to add yet another program to assist in that effort, said Mayor Sarno. “With this announcement my administration has allocated over $25 million in funding for small business and neighborhood economic recovery programming.”