News Briefs: Opioid research study; Ashland Street revitalization
Pittsfield, North Adams to participate in opioid research study
Pittsfield — The National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, awarded $89 million to Boston Medical Center to lead a research study with the goal of reducing opioid deaths by 40 percent in some of the most heavily impacted Massachusetts communities in three years as part of the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative. Pittsfield and North Adams are two of the 16 designated communities. Massachusetts is one of four states to receive the award, along with Kentucky, New York State and Ohio.
The approach of BMC’s study will be to partner with 16 communities across the state to test the impact of Office Based Addiction Treatment and the deployment of additional interventions. Eight sites will implement OBAT and eight will implement OBAT with additional programs such as community education, accelerated access to medication during hospitalization, jail, and detoxification as well as prevention and intervention programs in communities, schools and doctor’s offices.
Jennifer Kimball, coordinator for the Berkshire Opioid Addiction Prevention Collaborative stated: “Berkshire County has been seriously impacted by the opioid epidemic, and we are very grateful to be a part of this important research effort. Not only will Berkshire County benefit from an increased access to office-based addiction treatment and perhaps additional services, but the Commonwealth and the country will benefit from a well-designed study that is representational of a diverse number of communities, each with its own demographics, dynamics, and needs. This type of comprehensive study is what is needed in order to understand what truly works to reduce opioid-related deaths. I feel very hopeful.”
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Commonwealth Places campaign to activate Ashland Street corridor
North Adams — MassDevelopment and the civic crowdfunding platform Patronicity have launched a new Commonwealth Places campaign with the Ashland Street Initiative, a coalition of community groups including the NAMAzing Initiative, North Adams Complete Streets Initiative, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and O+ North Adams. Using campaign funds, the Ashland Street Initiative will implement several placemaking projects along the Ashland Street corridor with a goal to activate the neighborhood and make it more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Specifically, the organization will add new benches, plant trees, create rain-activated art along the corridor’s sidewalks, install custom-made single-mount bike racks and stations with crossing flags for pedestrians, and paint a mural on the exterior wall of 50 Ashland St.
If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $12,500 by Thursday, May 30, at midnight, the project will win a matching grant with funds from Commonwealth Places.
Commonwealth Places is a collaborative initiative from MassDevelopment and Patronicity that leverages public support for placemaking projects through crowdfunding and a matching grant from MassDevelopment. The program engages residents in the development of strategic projects in their towns and cities. In November 2018, MassDevelopment announced $500,000 in funding for the third year of the program, which has supported successful campaigns across the Commonwealth.
This is the second Commonwealth Places campaign launched in North Adams. In 2017, the NAMAzing Initiative, a collective of community members, business owners, and municipal leaders in North Adams, crowdfunded $35,871 and received a $25,000 matching grant from MassDevelopment for a placemaking initiative to reinvigorate Eagle Street in the city’s downtown.