Shelburne Falls residents seek grant match for public art, bicycle-themed pocket park

  • Preliminary sketches of the bicycle-themed pocket park planned for between Conway and Depot streets in Buckland. Contributed Image

  • Preliminary sketches of the bicycle-themed pocket park planned for between Conway and Depot streets in Buckland. Contributed Image

Staff Writer
Published: 1/24/2023 3:04:57 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — Now that two village projects have received a $50,000 Commonwealth Places grant from MassDevelopment, residents are seeking donations to fund the required grant match.

The projects involve expanding the mosaic murals featured on business walls and constructing a bicycle-themed pocket park.

“Both projects want to connect Conway Street to the village,” said Whit Sanford, an organizer of the fundraising effort. “It seemed natural to raise money for both of them.”

Cindy Fisher, an avid cyclist and muralist, created mosaic murals across the village 12 years ago, all centering around themes and images from the region. She hopes to revive her project by adding five or six new murals.

“The strategically placed mosaics will be like a treasure hunt for walkers, helping them to look around and enjoy the artwork, the river, the mountains and the village as they make their way to business destinations along the way and at either end,” Sanford wrote on the fundraising page for the two projects.

The murals are projected to cost about $50,000, according to Sanford.

The bicycle-themed pocket park, meanwhile, is an idea that has been in the back of Shelburne Falls resident Mike McCusker’s mind for quite some time. As an avid cyclist, he travels around the country and the world for cycling tours. He noticed certain areas contain simple infrastructure specifically for cycling visitors. These areas include picnic tables, information kiosks and bicycle repair stations, complete with wrenches and a bike pump. McCusker said he hopes a pocket park in Shelburne Falls could support cycling visitors.

McCusker donated a 3,400-square-foot lot to Buckland, between Conway and Depot streets, where a pocket park could be built, and about two months ago, an ad hoc committee was formed to guide its creation. The committee decided on a mission statement for the park, saying it will mostly be used for village residents, but it will be bicycle themed for tourists to enjoy.

The committee hopes the pocket park will include a covered pavilion, ramps to make the site accessible, bike racks, a workstation for cyclists, and a sculptural stairway that provides an elevated overlook.

According to McCusker, the committee plans to host a public information and feedback session at Buckland Town Hall. An agenda and date for the forum will be posted on the Buckland town website in the coming days.

Sanford said both projects, which she described as a great public-private partnership, are expected to cost about $400,000 in all, with in-kind services made possible thanks to town employees lowering the amount they need to raise to about $320,000. Those involved with the two projects also intend to apply for additional grants, Sanford said.

“Both the projects get you out and exploring the village,” Sanford commented, “so people will know us better and come back again.”

The crowdsourced fundraising campaign is being administered by the Greenfield-based Franklin County Community Development Corporation. The fundraiser is available at bit.ly/3HnDgpN.

Contact Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.


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