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Northampton revives makeover plans for Pulaski Park

Long-planned efforts to give Pulaski Park a face-lift are being rekindled thanks to a change in Community Preservation Act funding requirements.

The change allows communities to hand out CPA grants to renovate parks, rather than fund only projects for new parks in the works. That should help breath new life into plans to redesign the popular public square situated between the Academy of Music and Memorial Hall, said city engineer James Laurila.

“It’s quite exciting,” he said. “The timing in the changes to the state law is good.”

The Department of Public Works will submit a CPA grant application to get the project rolling, some four years after budget woes halted its momentum.

If successful, the money will be used to hire Stephen Stimson Associates, of Cambridge, to prepare design plans and construction documents. The DPW envisions applying for another CPA grant and a state Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities, or PARC, grant to help fund construction of the project, Laurila said.

After a design competition in 2009 that drew four proposals, the Board of Public Works selected Stimson Associates and indicated that it would award a contract to the firm should the project move ahead.

That contract would call for a detailed plan and an estimate of construction costs. Rough estimates four years ago put park improvements at $1.5 million.

Stimson’s preliminary drawings called for a “Great Lawn” in the center of the park, an outdoor performance structure, plazas next to entrances on Main and South streets, and a walkway through the back of the park.

Laurila noted that plans could change based on public input. Some residents have already voiced support for keeping a play structure in the park.

To view Stimson’s initial ideas, visit www.northamptonma.gov/dpw/Engineering/pulaski_park/.

— CHAD CAIN

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