By Dan McDonald
NEW BEDFORD – The revamping of Wing’s Court, a public space that connects Union and Purchase streets and Acushnet Avenue downtown, will begin in two weeks.
Asphalt will be replaced with brick that will match the sidewalk on Purchase and Union streets, said Jill Maclean, the city’s assistant planner.
Plans call for the large planting in the court to be enlarged and changed. Evergreens will be replaced with shade trees, such as hawthorns. The project includes new lights, benches, tables and trash receptacles.
A permanent stage with electrical hookup will be built as part of the project.
Some water infrastructure will also be added to the court.
Maclean described Wing’s Court as “an important downtown space” that could be crucial in connecting “upper downtown with the historic district.”
In recent weeks, crews cleaned up a public easement that connected Wing’s Court to Acushnet Avenue, Maclean said.
A wall was removed and a gate was installed on the Acushnet Avenue entrance, she said.
The work is expected to start in two weeks and to be completed in about two to three months.
Once finished, the gates to the court will typically be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with exceptions made for events like AHA! night.
There will be a “15-foot envelope for commercial property owners who want to utilize space in the court” that could lend itself to outdoor cafe seating, Maclean said.
“It’s a great asset for the downtown.”
Mayor Scott W. Lang said the court will be closed to pedestrian use during construction.
The space, Lang said, has “tremendous potential but has been underutilized and (is) somewhat of an eyesore.”
The work is being funded through a $125,000 state grant designed for projects involving urban parks, Maclean said.
About $26,000 of that money will be used for the planning, engineering and renderings, while the remainder will be used to purchase materials for the project. The city’s own crews will do the work.
Diane Arsenault, executive director of Downtown New Bedford Inc., said downtown businesses have wanted to see Wing’s Court renovated for a long time.
“It would have been nice to have it completed by the beginning of summer,” said Arsenault. “But better late than never.”
Legal and insurance issues needed to be ironed out regarding the use of the space.
“There’s a lot at play,” she said.
She said the downtown merchants who will use the space for outdoor cafe seating will contribute to the maintenance.
July 18, 2011 12:00 AM
By Dan McDonald