For Immediate Release - January 24, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Awards $3.6 Million for Parks in Six Western Massachusetts Communities

SPRINGFIELD – Tuesday, January 24, 2012 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. today announced $3,647,360 in grants to enhance parks and recreational facilities in the communities of Amherst, Holyoke, Northampton, Springfield, Westfield and Wilbraham.

The grants announced today derive from two EEA initiatives – the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities program (PARC) and the Gateway Cities Parks Program, which is one of Governor Patrick’s signature urban investment programs. Through these two programs, the Patrick-Murray Administration has invested more than $72.9 million since 2007, resulting in the creation or restoration of 154 parks. Funding for both grant programs comes from the Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in August 2008.

“Public parks are essential to the health and economic wellbeing of our communities,” said Secretary Sullivan. “Both of these programs are key tools in revitalizing our public spaces here in Western Massachusetts and across the Commonwealth.”

Through the Gateway City Parks Program, the cities of Holyoke and Westfield received grants to fund the following projects:

  • Holyoke -- Veterans Park Renovation – $1.4 million for the renovation of the existing park including the addition of handicap accessible ramps, new pavement, tree removal and pruning, tree planting, new lighting, fencing, trash receptacles, and benches. 
  • Westfield -- Columbia River Greenway – $1 million for the city of Westfield to build a greenway along an abandoned rail line from the city’s border with the town of Southwick to the Little River, a distance of just over a mile. The greenway will also connect to trails in Northampton, allowing travel along a substantial network of trails to the north as well.

Gateway City Parks is a flexible program, providing municipal officials with a menu of funding options for all phases of park development. Twenty-four Massachusetts cities are eligible for the program, which targets communities with population greater than 35,000 and median household incomes and educational attainment levels below the state average.

Funding can be used for activities and costs such as brownfield assessment and cleanup, park planning and recreational needs assessments – including the development of Open Space and Recreation Plans, activities that were not eligible for state parks funding prior to the Patrick-Murray Administration's creation of the Gateway City Parks program. Communities can also use the grants for acquisition, design and construction of parks, greenways, and other recreational facilities. The cities of Holyoke and Westfield are two of nine Gateway City Park grant recipients announced across the state earlier this month.

The PARC program, formerly Urban Self-Help, was established in 1977 to assist cities and towns in acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. PARC grants are offered on a competitive basis and reimburse communities between 52 and 70 percent of the total project cost, determined by municipal demographics, with a maximum grant award of $500,000.

Municipalities receiving PARC grants must have a current Open Space and Recreation Plan, an authorized parks and recreation commission, and the land must be under parks commission jurisdiction and open to the public.

Through the PARC Grants Program, the communities of Amherst, Northampton, Springfield and Wilbraham received grants to fund the following projects:

  • Amherst -- Community Field Rehabilitation – $208,320 for the installation of a pool liner, new concrete decking, fencing and lighting for safety, new drain lines and piping to fix significant water leaks, replacement of the filtration system and upgrades to the filter house, new benches, lifeguard chairs, shade structures, and water fountains, and improvements to the pool house.
  • Northampton -- Florence Recreation Fields – $500,000 for the development of a new park that includes five multi-use fields, one 60-foot baseball diamond and one 90-foot baseball diamond, a parking lot, a multi-purpose path along the property,a playground, a pavilion, restrooms, and a concession and storage building.
  • Springfield -- Hubbard Park – $500,000 for updates to the tennis and basketball courts, grading and drainage for the ball fields, new perimeter fencing, ADA accessible paths, a new parking lot, and a new picnic grove.
  • Wilbraham -- Spec Pond Recreational Area Renovation Project – $39,040 for the design of the Spec Pond Recreational Area.

“I would like to congratulate Hubbard Park on receiving this generous grant,” said Sen. James Welch. "The improved recreational facilities and accessibility will benefit everyone in the community."

“The grant for Hubbard Park in Indian Orchard is great news for the neighborhood and the city," said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. "The grant fits right into our continuing efforts to enhance and improve our green space and park areas."

In addition to creating or restoring 154 urban parks, the Patrick-Murray Administration has protected more than 88,000 acres of land since 2007. Massachusetts now has nearly 1.3 million acres permanently protected – more acres than acres have been developed.

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