For Immediate Release - November 26, 2013

Patrick Administration Announces Open Space Investments to Expand Growth and Opportunity in Central Massachusetts

WORCESTER – Tuesday, November 26, 2013 – Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced $3.1 million in investments for parks, recreational spaces and open space conservation in nine central Massachusetts communities. Secretary Sullivan made the announcements in Worcester, where more than $700,000 in grants will support Green Hill Park renovations and acquire land to improve neighborhood access to conservation areas.

“The Patrick Administration is committed to improving our parks and open spaces across the Commonwealth,” said Secretary Sullivan. “In addition to preserving open space, improving recreational opportunities and protecting the Commonwealth’s natural resources, these investments will create economic growth across the region.”

An $800,000 Gateway City Parks grant will fund phase two of the Monoosnoc Brook River Walk in Leominster, which will extend the first phase of the river walk through downtown, providing a trail, benches, and other amenities.

Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Program grants of $400,000 each were awarded to Framingham, Leominster and Worcester and $300,000 to Orange.

Three Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grants were awarded in the region. Petersham received $160,000 for the King Farm conservation restriction. Westminster received more than $80,000 for the Muddy Pond project, and Worcester received over $300,000 for the Ecotarium West project.

Other announcements included more than $175,000 for Drinking Water Supply Protection grants to Fitchburg for protection of its northern watershed in Ashby and Ashburnham and more than $68,000 in Conservation Partnership grants for projects in Hardwick and West Brookfield.

For a complete list of projects and their descriptions by community, see below.

Strengthening the Patrick Administration’s commitment to urban park investments, Secretary Sullivan announced a new grant program aimed at building a playground or spray park in each of the Commonwealth’s 54 cities. The Our Common Backyards grant program will help cities create or renovate parks in the neighborhoods that need them most.  Each city is eligible to receive up to $200,000 in grant assistance.  The Our Common Backyards grant application will be available on Comm-pass and the EEA website soon.

EEA created the Gateway City Parks Program in 2009 to develop and restore parks in urban neighborhoods.  The program is designed to be flexible and provide municipal officials with a menu of funding options for all phases of park development. Twenty-six Massachusetts cities are eligible for the program, which targets communities with populations greater than 35,000 and median household incomes, per capita incomes and educational attainment levels below the state average.

The PARC Program (formerly the Urban Self-Help Program) was established in 1977 to assist cities and towns in acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. Any town with a population of 35,000 or more year-round residents, or any city regardless of size, that has an authorized park or recreation commission is eligible to participate in the program.

LAND Program (formerly the Self-Help Program) was established in 1961 to assist municipal conservation commissions in acquiring land for natural resource protection and passive outdoor recreation purposes. The grant provides reimbursement funding for the acquisition of land or a conservation restriction, as well as for limited associated acquisition costs. Lands acquired may include forests, fields, wetlands, wildlife habitat, unique natural, historic or cultural resources, and some farmland. Access by the general public is required. Appropriate passive outdoor recreational uses such as hiking, fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing, and bird watching are encouraged.

Since taking office, Governor Patrick has made a historic investment of more than $300 million in land conservation focused on three goals: investing in urban parks, preserving working farms and forests and protecting large natural landscapes for habitat. This investment has resulted in the permanent protection of more than 110,000 acres of land and the renovation or creation of more than 170 parks. The new parks and open space created are within a ten minute walk of 1.5 million residents – about a quarter of the Commonwealth’s residents.

According to a report by The Trust for Public Land, outdoor recreation generates $10 billion in consumer spending, $739 million in state and local tax revenue and $3.5 billion in wages and salaries each year in Massachusetts. This report also found that the state’s Gateway City Parks investments will create nearly 500 jobs and $26.5 million in local wages and salaries.

MUNICIPALITY

GRANT PROGRAM

TOTAL GRANT AWARD

PROJECT NAME

Fitchburg

Drinking Water Supply Protection

$ 178,525

Northern Watershed - Kirby Property: The property is in the northern water supply watershed, including Zone C and A as well as two tributaries to Fitchburg Reservoir. A house occupied by the owner, excluded from acquisition, dates from 1770. Extensive road frontage makes it highly developable. Protection will add to unfragmented corridor of forestland, streams, and upland riparian areas extending north to Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham State Forest Habitat Reserve.

Framingham

PARC

$ 400,000

Cushing Memorial Park Phase 5: The project will include the installation of a Children's Grove that will incorporate natural play elements, ADA compliant furnishings, park landscaping and tree planting, interpretive signage, and utility support systems.

Hardwick

Conservation Partnership

$ 40,000

Cernauskas Conservation Acquisition: (note - East Quabbin Land Trust is grantee) The acquisition of the Cernauskas property will provide public passive recreation access, protect the Ware River and adjacent wetland resources, conserve priority wildlife habitat, and encourage sustainable forest management.

Leominster

Gateway City Parks

$ 800,000

Monoosnoc Brook River Walk (Phase II): Extend the first phase of the River Walk through downtown, providing a trail, benches, and other amenities.

Orange

PARC

$ 300,000

Butterfield Park Renovation Project: The project includes the construction of one baseball field and two practice fields, the restoration of the existing concrete grandstand, renovation of existing gazebo/bandstand, expansion of the playground, addition of a basketball court, addition of a farmers' market shelter, creation of a community tree nursery, creation of two picnic areas, construction of a 1/2 mile loop path, and addition of a street/ice hockey rink.

Petersham

LAND

$ 156,480

King Conservation Restriction: onservation restriction will ensure current farming and timber harvesting activities can continue on this property, most of which is wooded, but which also has a small field with prime agricultural soils. The property is a wildlife corridor between protected town land and the Swift River valley. An existing trail used by hikers, bikers, and hunters will be formalized and another trail added to create a loop. In cooperation with East Quabbin Land Trust.

West Brookfield

Conservation Partnership

$ 28,250

McRevey 41: (note - East Quabbin Land Trust is grantee) The conservation of the McRevey property will provide public passive recreation access, protect wetland resources, conserve priority wildlife habitat and encourage sustainable forest management. The land trust is collaborating with the Nipmuc Tribe to create a Nipmuc Community and Education Center on the property.

westminster

LAND

$ 81,050

Muddy Pond: Wetlands and working forest with significant frontage on Muddy Pond. BioMap2 Core in a local, state, and federal priority conservation area. Abuts 3,400 acres of conservation land. Provides public access to pond and new access to the Midstate Trail. In partnership with the North County Land Trust and Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust.

Worcester

PARC

$ 400,000

Green Hill Park Renovation Phase II: The project includes upgrading current walkways and restrooms to ADA standards, maintenance facility upgrades, informational kiosk, new pocket play areas, upgrades to the drainage system, pond edge improvements, replacement of benches/picnic tables and installation of new exhibit areas.

Worcester

LAND

$ 329,000

Ecotarium West: Oak forest and savannah land located in a heavily minority and young environmental justice community to the east of the city. It abuts and will greatly improve neighborhood access to Crow Hill Conservation Area. City is seeking funds from the CSX Rail yard project. Trails and nature study, particularly by nearby North High School. In partnership with the Greater Worcester Land Trust.