Greenfield Energy Park

Northeast Sustainable Energy Association
Greenfield, MA

Submitted by: Sandy Thomas

An educational community greenspace

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Why It Works

Opened in 1999, this park is a 1-1/4 acre greenspace, reclaimed from an abandoned railroad station site. It was built as a partnership project - owned by the Town of Greenfield and organized by our non-profit organization, the Northeast Sustainable Energy Assoc (NESEA). We have created vested community partnerships with local businesses, schools, foundations, government, Greenfield Garden Club, Greenfield Historical Society, Honor Court, 4-H Club, Kiwanis Club and others.

Much of the Park has been built on "sweat equity" with thousands of volunteer hours, materials, and plants... that still continues. Because this site was once the pride and joy of our community as a grand train station, and then blighted for 35 years, residents are very supportive of our efforts to offer an oasis right downtown.

Among the several top features are nine works of commissioned public art (including a solar train sculpture), three educational exhibits, and a 1944 Caboose Museum. The public gardens are beautiful and contain 10 themed beds with custom identification tiles and map for visitors. The arboretum features 25 varieties of native trees and shrubs (many of which are not being planted by commercial nurseries).

What Makes Greenfield Energy Park a Great Place?

The Park is the critical downtown link. The south gate boasts an artisan's staircase with an orginal stained-glass window in a roof, colored risers on stairs, and metal sunburst, along with a bicycle trough, making it pedestrian and bicycle friendly. The North Gate is handicapped-accessible and the park won an award from a local disability group for ease of access. Pathways are stone dust and brick. Part of the original funding was from ISTEA (Intermodal Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act), so foot and bike traffic was essential. A map of the park is available at the entry Information Kiosk.

It is beautiful. Plantings with many flowers are evident throughout the Park. It is immaculate because it is cleaned every day by local Honor Court (men in treatment for substance abuse). We work with them as they volunteer time to keep maintenance up to date. It is mowed, weeded, litter picked up every day. It is very safe. Through it is officially closed after dark, a security guard patrols in the evenings until 12:00 or 1:00 a.m. Vehicles are not allowed in the Park.

During nice weather, people can be found in the Park at all times. In the morning, it is mostly parents and children. Joggers come by at noon along with downtown workers on lunch breaks. During the school year field trips visit as they tie in lessons to science and transportation curriculum. In the evening, older people stroll through. All the park space is used. We are starting a new program this spring with 4-H to help with gardneing. We are also seeing a lot of our tourists coming to visit the new Caboose Museum (an authentic renovated 1944 caboose with artifacts, vintage photos, renovated office space and pot-belly stove).

I meet my friends here, people come to picnic, children play on a wooden train play structure, there are community festivals and gardening gatherings and events. Generally, visitors are quite happy, they sometimes bring guitars or drums. We are seeing more guests with locals as the Park matures.

History & Background

NESEA is dedicated to educating the public and professionals about responsible energy use. Therefore, this park was designed as a demonstration of renewable energy projects and information. That is what makes it unique.

Contact Info:

Sandy Thomas, Park Director

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