For Immediate Release - December 23, 2013

PATRICK ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES OPEN SPACE, PARK, RECREATION INVESTMENTS TO CREATE GROWTH AND OPPORTUNITY IN MERRIMACK VALLEY, NORTH SHORE REGIONS

HAVERHILL – Monday, December 23, 2013 – Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced more than $3.2 million in investments for parks, open space and recreation in five Merrimack Valley and North Shore region communities. Secretary Sullivan made the announcements in Haverhill where more than $1 million in grants will help to improve Swasey Field and Haverhill Stadium.

“The Patrick Administration is committed to investing in 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.”

A $600,000 Gateway City Parks grant will fund phase two of the Swasey Field project, which includes the rebuilding of the baseball diamonds, additions to the walking path and creation of a sledding path. EEA supported phase one of the reconstruction of Swasey Park with a $1 million grant, which was completed in the summer of 2013.

The Concord River Greenway received a $950,000 Gateway City Parks grant and a $400,000 PARC grant to fund the last two phases of the greenway, completing this multi-use trail reconnecting the heart of Lowell to the scenic Concord River.

Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Program grants of $400,000 were also awarded to Haverhill, Lawrence and Salisbury.

Additionally, a $50,000 Conservation Partnership Grant was awarded to the Essex County Greenbelt Association to conserve the Norcross Gateway in Gloucester.

For a complete list of projects and their descriptions by community, see attached pdf format of attached .

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. The following North Shore and Merrimack Valley communities are eligible for this new program: Amesbury, Beverly, Gloucester, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, Newburyport, Peabody, Revere, Salem and Winthrop.

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 community with an up-to-date Open Space and Recreation Plan is eligible to apply for the program.

Since taking office, Governor Deval 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.

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