|Volunteers Replant Vandalized Eagle Street Park|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
12:06PM / Friday, August 10, 2018
Raised beds and planters hold flowers at the Eagle Street park.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Tuesday night the pocket park on Eagle Street was vandalized. By Friday morning, the newly expanded space was beginning to rebloom with flowers and greenery.
"Honestly, it really gives you more faith in humanity when the community comes together around something like that," said City Councilor Benjamin Lamb, one of the drivers behind the rejuvenation of Eagle Street, on Thursday afternoon. "They may not have been involved in the space but now suddenly they are taking ownership."
The park is one of the key features of the NAMAzing Eagle Street Initiative, a largely community-funded facelift of the historic one-way street. The site was given to the city by owners Peter May and Eric Rudd when the building there burned down a decade ago. A small park was created but it was awkward and uninviting.
The park was cleared and expanded and walkway and plantings installed that were funded through the initiative and with the elbow grease of volunteers.
But sometime Tuesday night between 8:30 and the discovery at 10:15 one or more persons entered the dark park and trashed the plantings. Staff at Desperados restaurant nearby did their best to replant what they could.
"We can neither afford to purchase new plantings to replace these nor do we have the volunteers available to repeatedly replant things because someone decides to be destructive. Unfortunately, some of the plants are not salvageable," the initiative posted on its Facebook page. "If we want to have nice things, we need to collectively support and respect when nice things are happening, and must stay vigilant in the face of those who have no respect for the human capital and financial expense that these projects cost."
Almost immediately, people began reaching out directly and through social media about how they could help.
"We've got dozens of people that are saying they're donating plants," Lamb said, while others asked about donations, volunteering, or installing video cameras. Motion sensor lights are planned for the park but had not yet been installed.
The park's already looking better as people have planted flowers in the last couple days with more plantings expected for Friday morning during the weekly coffee date.
"I'm amazed at the number of people who come out on Friday morning just to hang out and have coffee," Lamb said. "It's conversations with their friends and neighbors and people they've never met before."
The Friday coffee klatches started on a whim with the installation of the parklet across from the park. The mobile "park" built by B&B Micro Manufacturing became an instant hit that's drawn dozens for the get-togethers that are often hosted with free coffee and pastry by local businesses and organizations.
Between doubling the park space and the addition of the parklet, said Lamb, "you end up with an actual space you can hold events on Eagle Street without shutting down Eagle Street."
The initiative is also installing new signage, trash containers, and public art. The ribbon-cutting on the street will take place next Wednesday during the annual Downtown Celebration and will feature a performance by Boston band Bad Art.
With all the volunteers and donated greenery, the park should be in prime shape for the celebration.
"The street itself has really taken ownership of that corridor now ... and they have for years but now there's like this gem that people are coming to and engaging with," said Lamb. "To see that collective ownership is really exciting."