Outdoor dining is here to stay in Massachusetts and expanding with the help of $6.5 million in funding.
It’s coming from the “Shared Roads and Places” program, as Lt. Gov. Kieran Polito announced Wednesday in Dedham.
“Something that was thought of as a temporary solution to get us through the COVID times is now being thought of as a more permanent facility to enhance the experience in places like Dedham City, and smaller also increases opportunities for business owners,” Polito said.
Polito announced that 78 Massachusetts municipalities will receive grant money from this current round.
The program, which distributed its first prize last summer, gives cities and towns grants of up to $500,000 for short-term Main Street improvements, including dining areas, road safety modifications, improved accessibility, public bus facilities and bike-sharing programs. The Baker-Polito Administration has awarded $33 million in more than 310 grants to 183 municipalities since its inception.
Polito said this grant round awarded $6.5 million to 78 applicants out of a total of 94. He noted that 51% of the awards went to “designated environmental justice communities” or those with low median household incomes, large numbers of minorities and/or large numbers of households who lack English proficiency. Additionally, 28% of applicants were first time applicants.
Past award winners include Ipswich, which received nearly $158,000 to convert the parking lot into a “one-year riverfront outdoor dining and gathering space,” according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation website. Wayland, Rockport and Needham received similar grants for outdoor dining in April’s funding round. Specific projects funded by grants in this round have not yet been announced.
Bob Luz, President and CEO of Massachusetts Restaurants, said, “The government has been very supportive through the Main Streets program and has a record of supporting a sustainable path for outdoor dining to be part of communities in the Commonwealth prior to the current expansion. is also.” association, said in an email. The outdoor dining provision is currently scheduled to expire in April 2022.
“It took an epidemic to get us here … and you see the great success that outdoor dining has brought to our neighborhood and our city,” said Frank de Pascal, who lives in several places in the North End and inside Encore Casino. The owner of the restaurant. “I hope this is something that continues.”
Without outdoor dining and the “zeal” that came with it, he said, his restaurants could not have survived the pandemic.
“It brings everyone together, almost like a community in Europe,” he said. “It makes us all one.”