Friends of Fitchburg Abolitionist Park will receive a $4,500 grant from the North Central Massachusetts Association of Realtors to assist in the transformation of an unused parcel on Snow Street to a “pocket park” and memorial site.
Fitchburg State University has agreed to let organizers use the university-owned property at 42-50 Snow St. as the memorial site for anti-slavery activist and resident Benjamin Snow Jr.
The grant, funded by the National Association of Realtors, is intended to help realty associations partner with others to plan, organize, implement and maintain place-making projects in their communities.
Funds will be used to purchase a flag pole, two flags, solar powered lighting, apple trees, perennial flowers, and fencing for the park.
Members of the Realtor association have also volunteered to assist with the landscaping and installation of the trees, flowers, flag pole and fencing.
In a press release, NCMAR President Kendra Dickinson said Realtors take pride in working to improve the communities they work in, and this grant is an example of their dedication. “Place making can help foster healthier, more social and economically viable communities,” she said. “It creates places where people feel a strong stake in their neighborhoods and are committed to making things better.”
Place-making grants are awarded to local and state Realtor associations to help create public spaces and destinations in a community, like transforming a parking spot or a vacant lot into a pocket park or garden, according to Dickinson.
Mount Wachusett Community College Instructor David Thibault-Munoz, who is spearheading the project, said he was grateful for the funding boost and happy the project is getting more support.
“We’re really excited about this,” he said. “Right now, we’ve raised a little over $12,000 to get started on phases one and two of the project.”
In September, Fitchburg State and Three Pyramids, the organization working with Friends of Fitchburg Abolitionist Park, signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a multi-phase plan for the project.
Thibault-Munoz said the park will include a brick walkway, three benches, and a flagpole with a perennial garden at its base. The center of attention will be several busts of prominent abolitionist figures who are connected to Snow. Plans include building an interactive display with photos of several abolitionists, which will be connected to a phone application that tells their story.