For Immediate Release - April 30, 2013

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces $500,000 Grant for the Creation of a New Urban Park in New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD – Tuesday, April 30, 2013 –  Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced a $500,000 Gateway Cities Park Grant to help acquire and renovate the historic Haskell Property in New Bedford.

The Gateway Cities Parks Program was established in 2009 with a mission to create parks and enhance recreational facilities in 26 communities, designated as Gateway Cities, across the Commonwealth.

“This project will create a new and unique urban parkland, which exemplifies the mission of the Patrick-Murray Administration to revitalize our state’s inner city communities,” said Secretary Sullivan. “The Commonwealth is pleased to partner with the Trustees to create healthy recreational opportunities for the residents of New Bedford and the surrounding region.”

The grant, which was awarded to the Trustees of Reservations, will be used for a restoration project at the six-acre property that includes 1.5 acres of open space, and about 30,000 square feet of greenhouses, historic homes and landscaped gardens. The project is estimated to cost $2.5 million and expected to take three years to complete.

“The preservation and development of the Haskell Property as an urban park is welcome news. For years, this iconic property has been regularly used by New Bedford area residents with permission of the Haskell family”, said Sen. Mark Montigny, a long time sponsor of Gateway City initiatives and state bonding for projects such as the present one. “The efforts of the Trustees of Reservations and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs are most appreciated and will ensure that this parcel will remain green space that is open to all. The local legislative delegation has worked hard to secure monies for state Gateway City programs such as the City Parks program and we are happy to have helped bring this acquisition to fruition. An added benefit of this project is that it preserves one of New Bedford’s oldest buildings and adepts it for modern use. The development of urban parks and the preservation of historic structures for re-use not only improves the quality of life of the area but also acts functions as another economic stimulus to our region.”       

“As the founder and Co-Chairman of the Massachusetts Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus, I want to thank Governor Patrick and Secretary Sullivan for their continuing commitment to New Bedford and all of Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities,” said Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral. “With its landscaped gardens and extensive greenhouses, the Allen C. Haskell Urban Park will create another open space for our City.”

“We are grateful to the Trustees for undertaking the Haskell property as their next project,” said Rep. Robert M. Koczera. “This site has provided opportunities for the public to enjoy this wonderfully landscaped project.  I am happy that the Trustees will maintain this urban oasis for future generations to enjoy.”

"For a Gateway city, New Bedford is blessed with a number of wonderful open spaces and parks," said Rep. Chris Markey. "Thanks to a collaboration between the Patrick administration and the trustees of reservations, we are now able to add the Haskell property to that list. It is unique for its combination of horticulture, history and open-space, planted firmly in an urban neighborhood.  I have no doubt that it will be enjoyed by its neighbors and all city residents for many years to come."

“We are so grateful to The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for this generous grant which gets us one step closer to the establishment of the Allen C. Haskell Urban Park for the enjoyment and engagement of New Bedford residents and beyond,” said Trustee President Barbara Erickson. “As the nation’s oldest statewide land trust and Massachusetts’ largest conservation organization, The Trustees have such a rich legacy of preserving the iconic special places in our state, including more than 10,000 acres here on the South Coast, many of which have been made possible by the generosity of the local community, public and private partners. Along with the Patrick-Murray Administration, we are extremely grateful to the City of New Bedford and other donors who have made early and significant investments in this project and are helping us make our vision for this park a reality.”

The property was owned for decades and run as a nursery by Allen Haskell, a well-known horticulturalist. The new park will preserve the best features of the property while providing a green space for people to enjoy.

The Gateway City Parks Program is a flexible program that provides municipal officials with a number of funding options for all phases of park development. There are 26 Massachusetts cities 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.

Over the past three years, the Patrick-Murray Administration has invested nearly $22 million in the program. In 2012, the program funded $7 million worth of park construction projects, providing jobs and enhancing economic vitality and quality of life. 

Since taking office, the Patrick-Murray Administration has made a historic investment of more than $300 million in land conservation. This has been accomplished by focusing on three goals: preserving working farms and forests, protecting large natural landscapes for habitat and investing in urban parks.