REALTORS Are Helping To Transform Massachusetts Towns
When Ben Scranton, CEO of the REALTOR® Association of Pioneer Valley (RAPV) in Western Massachusetts, first learned about Placemaking Grants, he was immediately intrigued. Scranton was attending a meeting hosted by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) when he discovered that the REALTOR® Party was offering micro grants of up to $2,500 for community improvements. “$2,500 may not seem like a large amount of money to some, but I knew that if we directed the funds towards the right projects it could make a big difference for neighborhoods in our area.”
Scranton set to work immediately, getting word of this community enhancement opportunity out to the 1,650 REALTORS® in his association. Members were quick to respond with ideas, and by the end of the year two of the grants that the association had applied for were awarded.
The first placemaking grant contributed to the construction of a fenced-in, off-leash dog park in the town of Agawam, just west of Springfield in Hampden County that generated lots of excitement in the community. Residents collaborate with the town’s Parks & Recreation and Planning & Community Development Departments to make the dream of a safe dog playground a reality.
The dog park was largely financed through the private fundraising efforts of the Agawam Dog Owners Group (ADOG) who were pleased to receive RAPV’s generous contribution. In addition to the boost from the placemaking grant, the RAPV also paid for a memorial bench for the Agawam Dog Park in honor of RAPV Past President Cindy Ayre, a lifelong dog-lover who had recently succumbed to a long illness.
The second placemaking grant went towards upgrading a recently constructed walking trail in Monson, Massachusetts, a small town east of Springfield. The town had been in recovery mode since being hit hard by a devastating tornado in June of 2011. The construction of the fitness trail was important to residents because it indicated that the town was far enough along in its reconstruction to begin focusing on recreational, quality-of-life projects.
The funding that the RAPV provided went towards the purchase of signage and benches for the walking trail. Though the trail was initially created with the town’s senior citizens in mind, they’ve found the facility appeals to everyone. “The trail is a nice addition for the whole community, and we’re proud to have made it a little more comfortable and welcoming,” said Scranton.
The RAPV is excited to continue to make an impact in the Massachusetts neighborhoods their REALTORS® live and work in. “These placemaking grants reflect how active and how invested in their communities our members are,” Scranton enthused. “They’ve really embraced this Placemaking initiative, and their ideas for future projects keep coming! We’re so grateful to the REALTOR® Party for supporting our community involvement this way.”