The Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced over $16 million in Shared Streets & Spaces grants this week and Dartmouth may have the most exciting plans for its funding.

While most cities and towns on the MassDOT's list plan to use the money for crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes, Dartmouth's $75,250 is earmarked "to transform a parking lot into a year-long pop-up space featuring attractions such as ice skating, food and drink vendors, seating, outdoor firepits and patio heaters."

We were, of course, intrigued and had to find out exactly what this pop-up space was all about.

After speaking to Cody Haddad, Dartmouth assistant town administrator in the Community Development/Grants department, we learned that this pop-up idea will feature "local vendors, businesses, food trucks, breweries, musicians, artists, firepits in the winter or on fall nights" with the goal of "bringing people into Dartmouth and having fun things for our residents."

Where Will The Dartmouth Pop-Up Space Be?

Haddad says there are lots of ideas and the current thought is to feature several pop-up events around town in various parking lots at different times throughout the year. One idea is to "revive the Freedom Festival with UMass Dartmouth or turn it into a Labor Day Festival and bring the community on campus or the campus into the community."

This was the plan in 2020, but we all know how that turned out. The grant money gives the town the chance to try again.

Other spots the town is looking at are the old police station space once the building is demolished and Dias Landing to bring people down to the Village.

When Will We See the First Pop-Up Space in Dartmouth?

Considering grant money was just awarded on Aug. 1, the town won't literally be popping anything up this summer. It likely won't even hold the first event this year. Haddad says the town is considering 2023. "We're talking with consultants and want to bring them on board, there's contracting, documents to think about."

They aren't called pop-up spaces for nothing, so you never know what could happen if things start to fall into place faster than expected.

How Can Local Businesses Get Involved?

Businesses, food trucks and vendors who hope to take part in these pop-up events "will not be charged to be there," Haddad says.

The ultimate goal is to "bring together the community and boost the economy, so there will be no cost to the business."

No ticket cost for event-goers either. The pop-up space will be open to the public to attend with no money for ticketed entry, just a great way to get out and experience the town while supporting local businesses.

What Happens When the Grant Money Runs Out?

The town has over $75,000 of grant funding for several pop-up spaces around town. That presumably means a few events throughout the year.

After that?

"We'll have to wait and see the success after the money is gone to see if it continues," Haddad says.

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