Greenfield celebrates Fiske Avenue improvements: Pollinator gardens, chess board, benches and bike repair station

  • Community and Economic Development Director MJ Adams and grant assistant, Christian LaPlante play a game of chess after Wednesday morning’s ribbon cutting at Fiske Avenue. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

  • Wisty Rorabacher, a volunteer who has been involved in starting and maintaining the pollinator garden on Fiske Avenue, said the project has been “a positive experience.” STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

  • Energy and Sustainability Manager Carole Collins referred to the improvements at Fiske Avenue parking lot as a “collaborative effort.” STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

  • Members of the community gathered Wednesday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the Fiske Avenue parking lot improvements. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

  •  Mayor Roxann Wedegartner welcomes the community to Wednesday morning’s ribbon cutting ceremony at the Fiske Avenue parking lot.  STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2021 4:47:51 PM

GREENFIELD — The community gathered Wednesday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the first phase of site improvements at Fiske Avenue, including the addition of pollinator gardens, and the installation of a chess board, two benches and a bicycle repair station.

“(Energy & Sustainability Manager) Carole (Collins) and I have been talking about this (project) since the first week I got here,” Mayor Roxann Wedegartner said at Wednesday’s ceremony, attended by community members and representatives of several city departments.

The recent improvements to the Fiske Avenue parking lot were made possible thanks to a $23,000 Community Challenge Grant from the American Association of Retired Persons, better known as AARP, an organization dedicated to empowering people ages 50 and older to choose how they live as they age.

Speakers at Wednesday’s brief event explained that the project began in fall 2020 with the replacement of the deteriorating wall along the back end of the parking lot, and a schematic plan by the Conway School of Landscape Design. The AARP grant helped to fund the installation of the pollinator garden at the southern end of the parking lot, as well as the installation of the different recreation amenities.

“If (Collins) hadn’t found that grant, we might not be here today,” Wedegartner said.

Pointing to the chess board — which Wedegartner joked was a nod to the recent Netflix drama, “The Queen’s Gambit” — the bicycle repair station and the benches, Collins said there was something at the pocket park for everyone to enjoy.

She referred to the project as “the definition of a collaborative effort.”

“It’s been pulling as many pieces together to get the highest effort,” Collins said.

Wisty Rorabacher, a volunteer who has been involved in starting and maintaining the pollinator garden, said the project has been “a positive experience.”

“It is so nice to be able to physically volunteer, and make an impact,” she said. “What allowed that to happen was the people from the town trusting us.”

In spring 2022, the second and final phase of the project will involve shifting the parking area to Miles Street, and a green space will take the place of the asphalt. This part of the project will be funded by a $200,000 Massachusetts Department of Transportation Shared Streets and Spaces grant, which was secured by the Department of Community and Economic Development.

“It is amazing that less than a year ago, the city replaced a failing retaining wall in a parking lot that has turned into an additional $223,000 in grant funding to not only make the space more inviting, but also help reduce stormwater overflow from large rain events,” Wedegartner said in a press release. “I am so appreciative of all the dedication and collaboration on the part of volunteers and municipal employees to bring this to fruition.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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