Two factors played a major role in Dedham's successful bid to receive a $1.3 million MassWorks grant - one of just 15 towns that will hear the good news this fall.
The $6 million project, several years in the making, comes with a shovel at the ready and showed an ability to help small businesses and add jobs, said Gregory Bialecki, secretary for the state's Housing and Economic Development Department.
"The construction industry has been the hardest hit industry of any in the state," Bialecki said. "We look and see is this something that is going to put people in the construction industry back to work within a year? with this, the answer is yes."
The town, along with Dedham Square Circle, paid for the costs of planning the massive Square revitalization plan with its own funds, which gave it a boost over competing bids.
"In other cases, if we gave somebody a planning grant, it's nice, but that might not put people to work for two or three years - and we need it now," Bialecki said.
The state will award about 15 town across Massachusetts with grants ranging from $250,000 to $2 million, Bialecki said after the announcement.
According to town documents provided to Patch, the project will improve traffic flow significantly. Plans call for a traffic light at the often-called dangerous intersection of Eastern Avenue and High Street, proper turn signals at intersections, and an increased number of crosswalks.
"This is a project that means something to everyone in Dedham, it is an investment in the heart of the community," said Karen O'Connell, Dedham's economic development director.
Groundwork for the project will begin in the spring, with noticeable, above-ground construction beginning in the summer, according to Dave Fields, the town's engineer.
"We'll work in sections to minimize the impact," Fields said.
At a Board of Selectmen's meeting last week, selectman Jim MacDonald urged Karen O'Connell to work with the merchants to reduce negative effects that the project's construction could bring.
Town officials said they will spend the winter meeting in conjunction with Dedham Square Circle with merchants and residents of the Square to come up with an agreeable construction timetable.
"Dedham Square Circle will continue its important role before, and after, construction as an advocate for the small businesses in the Square," said Amy Haelsen, executive director of Dedham Square Circle. "We will launch a massive, sustained PR campaign to bring people to the Square during construction."