Hull has been awarded a $29,000 Shared Streets and Spaces grant from the state Department of Transportation to fund long-awaited improvements in and around the Anastos Corner area and the Mezzo Mare restaurant site, which is located on town property.
The purpose of the state-sponsored initiative is to enable communities to relocate parking, install more outdoor seating for restaurants, and upgrade sidewalks, crosswalks, and walkways in conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Chris Dilorio, Hull’s director of community development and planning, explained what the funding will mean for the targeted area.
“The jersey barriers that are there now and the parking located in the former roadway will be removed, which will open up the existing parking lot at Mezzo Mare to additional outdoor seating,” he said.
Pedestrian circulation will be upgraded with the reconfiguration of the existing sidewalk around the former roadway, along with clearer crosswalk markings and roadway signage.
“The improvements will provide a community benefit, specifically by enhancing pedestrian access and safety while also improving outdoor space,” Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Jennifer Constable said.
Mezzo Mare owner Joe Agostino was aware of the grant application and has provided insight about the space and safety concerns for the area, according to Constable.
“The goal of the Shared Streets and Spaces program is to create better and safer outdoor space for pedestrians and to support local businesses and the local economy,” Constable said. “That intersection [near Mezzo Mare] and pocket park have long been an eyesore with the jersey barriers, crumbling sidewalks, and faded crosswalks.”
Hull was also recently awarded a Local Rapid Recovery Planning grant, which will provide a consultant to make recommendations on expanding outdoor space options in town and developing ideas for marketing the area in support of local businesses, according to DiIorio.
“The LRRP grant provides technical assistance that will pair the town up with one or more consultants to determine baseline data on the impact COVID-19 has had on our businesses and beyond in Hull,” Constable said.
Once the areas that have been impacted the most are identified, Constable said, the consultant will work with town officials to develop specific action items that address those particular needs “as we work toward recovery.”
The hope and expectation are that funding will be available through additional grant programs to help support implementation of the action items outlined in the resulting LLRP for Hull.
“The board appreciates Chris’ efforts and work in helping to move forward the important work of post-COVID recovery for our residents and businesses,” Constable said. “The Shared Streets and Spaces grant will improve the pedestrian experience in the area.”
This initial work is expected to be a catalyst for similar outdoor space improvements throughout Hull. “The town is committed to and focused on ensuring that we are proactive with recovery work, so that our community – both the residents and businesses – may proceed swiftly and safely back to normal,” Constable said.
Town Manager Philip Lemnios said DiIorio’s efforts to scout out grant opportunities have helped the community in a variety of ways. “Chris has been instrumental in bringing about numerous projects in town that have improved, and continue to better, the quality of life for our residents,” he said.