Patrick Administration Announces Open Space Investments to Expand Growth and Opportunity in Western Massachusetts
EASTHAMPTON – Tuesday, November 26, 2013 – Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary (EEA) Rick Sullivan today announced more than $4.3 million in investments for parks, recreational spaces and open space conservation in 16 western Massachusetts communities. Secretary Sullivan made the announcement in Easthampton, where a $400,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant will help make improvements at the Nashwannuck Pond Promenade Park.
“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.”
In addition to Easthampton, six other communities, Adams, Amherst, Athol, Holyoke, Springfield and West Springfield, received PARC grants. 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/recreation commission is eligible to participate in the program.
Governor Deval Patrick previously announced $1.7 million in PARC and Gateway City Parks grants to complete improvements to First Street Common in Pittsfield. The First Street Common is the only large, accessible public open space that serves the Morningside neighborhood of Pittsfield, and the completion of this project will help create a stronger connection between the downtown community and the surrounding neighborhoods.
A Gateway City Parks grant also went to Chicopee. The city will use $805,000 to complete phase two of the Szot Park Stadium improvement project. 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.
Amherst and Belchertown received Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grants. Amherst will use its $105,665 grant to create a new community garden with a trail integrated throughout the property in East Amherst Village Center along the Fort River. Belchertown will use its $133,650 grant to double the size of the Jabish Brook Conservation Area. Since 1961, LAND grants have helped cities and towns acquire land for conservation and outdoor recreational uses. To qualify for the reimbursement grants, communities must fund projects upfront and the protected open space must be open to the public.
Drinking Water Supply Protection grants were announced for Northampton, Westfield and West Springfield and five Conservation Partnership grants, ranging from $7,500 to $85,000, were awarded to nonprofit organizations to help leverage funds to purchase land for conservation or recreation in Great Barrington, Hatfield, North Adams and South Hadley.
Strengthening the Patrick Administration’s commitment to urban park investments, Secretary Sullivan announced a new grant program that will build 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.
For a complete list of projects and their descriptions by community, see below.
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.
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.
TOTAL GRANT AWARD
4 Hoosac Street: The project will include the acquisition of 0.51 acres of land and site clearing and grading, installation of new decorative pavers, lighting, landscaping, and site amenities.
Saul Acquisition - Preservation of Farming Along the Fort River: This 19-acre farm field and wetland is located in the East Amherst Village Center with frontage on Fort River. It will be used for new model community garden with a large tillable area instead of individual plots. Licenses may also be granted to area farmers to farm 1-2 acre plots. A trail with accessible component will be integrated throughout property with educational signage. Adjacent to Fort River Elementary School, it can be accessed via an easement through adjacent properties, and by footbridge to be built from the school.
Mill River Recreation Area: The project includes adding two shade structures at the pool, updating the restrooms and changing rooms with accessible features and a new HVAC unit, replacing security lighting, installing a new accessible sidewalk and ramps from the entry and parking area to the pool.
Millers River Parks and Recreation Trails Project: The project includes the acquisition of 0.7 acres of land on the Millers River and the development of a new park with a series of trail loops.
Jabish Brook Conservation Area II: Adjacent to the Jabish Brook Conservation Area, this 90-acre property will more than double its size. The property is rolling terrain, currently forested with a mixed age stand of hard and softwoods that has been under forest management. One property separates it from Quabbin. Jabish Brook runs through the property, which runs to the City of Springfield's Ludlow Reservoir. It will be open for passive recreation, hunting and fishing.
Gateway City Parks
Szot Park Stadium Phase II: This project includes renovation of the grandstand and locker rooms, dugouts, new permanent and portable bleachers, press box, and other improvements. This second phase completes the project.
Nashwannuck Pond Promenade Park: The project includes three docks on the pond, a 4,000 square foot boardwalk, a 1,600 square foot plaza, pedestrian lights, benches, bike amenities, and landscaping.
Flag Rock: (note - grantee is Trustees of Reservations) The project will permanently protect about 45 acres of BioMap 2 core habitat, expand on the extensive network of conservation lands on and around Monument Mountain, and improve access.
Terry A. Blunt Watershed and Conservation Area addition: (note - grantee is Kestrel Land Trust) The project will protect a 20 acre woodland parcel and a small peak of Chestnut Mountain.
Avery Field Renovation: The project will include the removal of two half basketball courts to make one full court, the installation of two new play structures and a new swing set. The softball diamond will have new player benches, new safety fencing and backstop, and new site amenities.
Hoosac Parcel: (note - grantee is Berkshire Natural Resources Council) Project will acquire 66.8 acres of land owned by the City of North Adams on the western slope of the Hoosac Range, adjacent to the Berkshire Natural Resource Council's 740-acre Hoosac Range Reserve.
Drinking Water Supply Protection
Ryan Reservoir property in Conway: This 26 acre property has undeveloped woodlands with significant road frontage located in Zone B and portion of Zone A of the Ryan Reservoir. A chestnut tree regeneration project is located on the property. The eastern boundary borders a discontinued town road that is a popular hiking trail.
Gateway City Parks
First Street Common Park: Combined with a PARC grant award, the multi-phase redesign of the downtown common will be completed. Features include a new sprayground, courts, amphitheater, pathways and entrance.
First Street Common Park: The project will include the construction of a gazebo with accessible restrooms and an entry plaza, relocation of the basketball court, and final site grading, drainage, and lighted pathways.
Stony Brook Conservation Restriction: (note - grantee is Kestrel Land Trust) The project will fund due diligence and other acquisition costs, as the landowner donated this restriction to the land trust. The property is in BioMap 2 Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscape with one identified vernal pool.
Bachelor Brook Floodplain: (note - grantee is Kestrel Land Trust) The project will protect 46 acres of high priority floodplain forest.
Mary Troy Park: The project includes the installation of a series of freestanding play structures and exercise equipment, drinking fountains, trash receptacles, bike rack, benches, water spray feature, and improved lighting.
Drinking Water Supply Protection
Popowich Realty Trust: Located in Westfield and Southwick, the 43.5-acre property is within Zone II of the Southwick Wells in the Great Brook aquifer, the primary water source for the town, as well as two of Westfield's wells. This will be the first purchase of land by the town for wellhead protection since 1971. A large portion of the Zone II is already developed, making conservation of the remaining undeveloped lands critical. The property abuts 270 acres of protected open space, as well as portions of the Northampton - New Haven Canal.
Mittineague Park Gateway Entrance Improvements: The project includes planting additional trees, creating accessible walkways and paths, adding new ADA and universal paved parking spaces for 65 cars, expanding community gardens, creating a location for a farmers market, adding a picnic pavilion, improvements to horseshoe courts, adding bocce and shuffle board courts, and a new bridge over the nature trail.
Drinking Water Supply Protection
Olson Property in Granville: 93-acre forested former apple orchards and farm drain to Granville Reservoir. Buildings and farm dumps will be removed and the site remediated, removing an existing threat to water quality. Forest management will be conducted, and public access allowed away from water.