Friday July 27, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A beautiful downtown is part and parcel to a thriving region, Lt. Gov. Tim Murray told a group gathered on the newly gussied-up North Street on Thursday.

Included in the gathering were several people currently designing the next steps of Pittsfield's downtown streetscape project, who are hoping to beautify even more of the city's thoroughfare.

In Pittsfield to recognize the completion of the first two phases of the Downtown Streetscape Improvement Project, Murray highlighted the importance of local infrastructure revitalization to the larger picture of economic growth.

"Our administration continues to partner with cities and towns to invest in local infrastructure improvements," Murray said. "By working with the city of Pittsfield through the MassWorks Infrastructure Program and also partnering with local, state and federal agencies, we are paving the way for future opportunities that will advance economic development in Pittsfield's downtown business district and support regional economic growth."

According to consultants working with Downtown Inc. and the city on designing the streetscape, the next phase of the road construction will stretch along North Street from Maplewood Avenue to Tyler Street. Jon Deitrich, the project's director and traffic engineer for Fuss & O'Neill, and Kathleen Ogden, a senior landscape architect with Vana Hangen Brustlin Inc., said the fourth and final phase would tackle North Street from Columbus to Maplewood.

The design phase for both should wrap up within 18 months. The timing for the rest of the project will depend on whether funding sources can be identified.

Both phases would include a number of elements similar to the first two phases, which stretched from Housatonic Street north to Columbus Avenue, including Park Square. They featured brick pavers, wider sidewalks, wrought iron benches, vegetation elements and new light and utility poles.

The first two phases of the Downtown Streetscape Im prove ment Project were funded by $1.2 million from the state, and $3.32 million in federal highway dollars largely due to efforts of U.S. Rep. John Olver. An additional $100,000 was provided by the city.

Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bian chi said the city has been in discussions since earlier this year with state and national legislators to identify possible sources of funding for the next phase.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Murray said that the improvements will pay for themselves "many times over" by drawing new and expanded businesses and by attracting more consumers to the shops and restaurants in the area.

Bianchi noted that his administration is also mulling streetscape improvements in other parts of the city, such as neighborhoods along Tyler and Elm streets.

Murray also paid a visit to the Interprint laminate printing facility on Route 41, as part of the Patrick administration's effort to highlight the state wide creative economy.

He toured the design offices and the manufacturing floor of the facility.

Interprint employs several graphic designers, and seeks creativity and artistry from its entire staff to improve its products and cut its costs, said Peter Stasiowski, Interprint's director of communications.

"Our administration is committed to cultivating and strengthening the state's creative economy, and today's visits were a great opportunity to learn firsthand of examples of innovation under way in Western Massachusetts," Mur ray said. "My visits to Indian Orchard Mills and Interprint Inc. further promote partnerships with businesses and organizations within the industry and will hopefully foster opportunities to strengthen the industry's economic future."

To reach Scott Stafford:
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