Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra (middle) awards Daymen Toussaint (far right) a $50 Northampton gift card for his “POP: Pardon Our Progress” slogan.
Reminder Publishing photo by Ryan Feyre

NORTHAMPTON — The city of Northampton is spearheading efforts to support Main Street businesses when construction for the Main Street redesign commences in fall 2025.

One such effort, “Name That Campaign,” came to fruition over the past couple of months.

In January, the city of Northampton announced that they were partnering with the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Northampton Association, for the “Name That Campaign” contest, which invited residents and businesses to submit “creative and inspiring” names that fit the campaign dedicated to supporting Main Street businesses.

The goal of the campaign, according to the city, is to increase awareness of the importance of supporting downtown businesses during the construction period.
After receiving 132 submissions, the city announced on March 15 that the winning name is “POP: Pardon Our Progress,” which was submitted by local South Hadley musician Daymen Toussaint.

“Pardon our Progress captures the very soul of this campaign, signaling that downtown will not just be open for business, but we’ll be moving and shaking during construction, and we’ll be driving unique events to engage communities far and wide in the process and make it a fun and unique experience to continue to come out to shop, eat, explore local art and enjoy great music,” said Jillian Duclos, the executive director of the Downtown Northampton Association.

The city and its partners in this process conducted a small celebration at Thornes Marketplace on March 21 to honor Toussaint’s phrase and award him a $50 Northampton gift card donated by Thornes.

“I feel like you captured exactly what this project is going to be about,” Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra said to Toussaint during the celebration. “It’s acknowledging that we’re going through something that is challenging, but we’re doing it together.”

The goal of the Picture Main Street project is to provide a safer functioning downtown area with improved accessibility for all users.

To prepare for these new improvements, the city has conducted several public meetings over the past few years to discuss design alternatives for Main Street and help narrow the design possibilities down to one so 25% plans can be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to move the project forward.

“The primary reason for redesigning Main Street is to address deficiencies in safety that have resulted in Northampton’s Main Street being one of the more dangerous Main Streets in the commonwealth when comparing crash data and injuries,” Planning and Sustainability Director Carolyn Misch told Reminder Publishing in 2023.

The project begins west of the intersection of Elm and West streets and extends approximately 0.4 miles east to the intersection of Market and Hawley streets.

The proposed design from the city provides one travel lane in each direction on Main Street with a center running flush median that will afford space for turning vehicles at key locations.

Additionally, bike lanes are proposed on both sides of the roadway separated by a buffer and the project also calls for expanded sidewalks so there is more room for people to walk.

Other amenities like enhanced lighting, tree plantings, bus stop accommodations, reconfigured parking — including the proposed elimination of 57 spaces — and dedicated spaces for loading and deliveries are part of the proposed design.

The project has drawn some ire in the past from a group of residents who believe the project would negatively impact downtown Northampton as it continues to recover from the effects of COVID-19.

In 2023, Sciarra released a “frequently asked questions” document to address those concerns and announced in November that her partnership with the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Northampton Association would “ensure that downtown remains a bustling hub of activity, culture and business throughout the construction period.”

Construction is expected to occur from 2025 to 2028.