Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson is pleased to announce that the City received $47,999 from the Commonwealth as part of their new Shared Streets Initiative. These funds will be used to create outdoor dining and waiting areas for our downtown restaurants, barbers and salons at George Sweeney Park, Bullnose Park, and table at the corner of West Lynde and Lake Street. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Thursday that the state is nearly doubling funding from its Shared Streets and Spaces grant program, as a means to help businesses with public safety and logistical improvements during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re pleased that these grants can help businesses invest in items to help create more space and follow safety guidance during this pandemic,” Baker said “It’s obviously been a challenging year for everybody, but it’s been especially true for sectors that rely on foot-traffic to do business.”
The grant was submitted by Gardner’s Director of Community Development Trevor Beauregard. Mr. Beauregard stated “Our hope is the additional outdoor seating will assist the restaurants and other businesses in our downtown with expanding their capacity this fall and throughout next year.”
In total, the eight eateries located in downtown have a normal maximum seating capacity of 336, however, under the current COVID restrictions their seating capacity has diminished to 137. The hope is that supplying outdoor seating to these businesses can increase their customer bases. The City of Gardner has recently completed infrastructure upgrades in the Bullnose and George Sweeny Park area as well, as part of phase 1 of the Downtown Infrastructure Improvement Project. Work included replacement and reconstruction of sidewalks, handicap accessible ramps, crosswalks, and lighting structures, as well as the paving of the main areas of the Downtown.
“I want to thank Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito for their continued support of our City throughout the course of the pandemic,” said Mayor Nicholson. “This funding will not only help us in the immediate future as we deal with the current pandemic, but can also help us start to grow our outdoor opportunities in our downtown area and allow us to see how we can expand on programs like this in the future to bring people into our downtown.” Gardner was one of thirty-four communities of the state’s 351 municipalities to receive funding through this round of disbursements. All work associated with this funding must be completed by December 31st. “While the winter months are approaching, this program can help our local businesses in the immediate need and we will continue to evaluate how we can utilize our outdoor areas more throughout and after the cold months,” Nicholson concluded.
More information on this project can be found by contacting the City’s Community Development and Planning Department.