North Adams initiative aims higher after hitting fundraising mark

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NORTH ADAMS — If at first you do succeed, try for more.

After eclipsing the $25,000 fundraising goal for renovations and upgrades to Eagle Street, the NAMAZing Eagle Street Initiative has upped the ante to $35,000 with two weeks remaining in the challenge.

By reaching the fundraising goal — far ahead of the deadline — the project has earned a matching $25,000 from MassDevelopment, the state's economic development agency, through its Commonwealth Places Program.

The project was spearheaded by the volunteer NAMAzing group, which collaborated the Eagle Street stakeholders to form the NAMAzing Eagle Street Initiative.

The initiative has piggybacked on the momentum the city gained by participating in the Small Business Revolution contest, in which it was named a finalist but ultimately lost.

"After the Small Business Revolution, we saw how this community can become galvanized for a common goal, and so to that end, I never expected we wouldn't reach our goal because people here do wholeheartedly care for and about their community," said Benjamin Lamb, who launched the initiative.

The goal of the funding is to provide several upgrades to Eagle Street, including a seasonal "parklet" that would be installed in front of Persnickety Toys and provide an everyday hangout space also capable of hosting programming by community groups.

Additional plans include large gateway signage to mark the entrance to the historic street, as well as pedestrian-facing signage for Eagle Street businesses.

The project also include improvements in more detailed ways, such as trash and recycling bins to be installed on the street.

Launched on in March, the initiative received a steady stream of support but took off this week with an unexpected gift of $5,000 from the Caffrey Family of Pittsburgh, Pa.

And a donation by the Peter and Wendy Hopkins of Pownal, Vt., matched each dollar given up to $2,000.

David Atwell, owner of Desperados, also encouraged donations by offering gift cards.

"I'm speechless at how quickly we reached our goal, and at how incredible the past 48 hours played out to be for this initiative," Lamb said.

Eagle Street is home to several of the city's longstanding small businesses Desperados, Jack's Hot Dogs, and more. Newer businesses have sprouted up as well, including Eagle Street Artisans.

With the potential for an additional $10,000 in funding, the project's backers now have an eye on some additional improvements to the aesthetics of the street, including a mural and small sculptures.

The fundraising effort was facilitated through Patronicity, a crowdfunding platform that matches up community-based projects with matching donors.

"We are thrilled to see the great support of the entire North Adams community," said Jonathan Berk, director of Patronicity's New England Region. "We know this kind of project can happen when residents and business come together in a community."

Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376 or @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter.


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