For Immediate Release - October 25, 2010

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Grant for a New Park in Lawrence

LAWRENCE - Monday, October 25, 2010 - In keeping with the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to urban parks, Energy and Environment Secretary Ian Bowles today announced a grant to construct a new park in Lawrence.

The grant, $500,000 over two years, funds the construction of a new park at the Oxford Paper site, which will include a walkway, a Spicket River Greenway connection, a meadow with low-maintenance wildflowers, and the planting of 118 deciduous and 21 evergreen trees.

"Parks and open spaces are important features of our communities because they bring people and families together to enjoy healthy outdoor activities like walking, biking, fishing and team sports," said Secretary Bowles. "Under Governor Patrick's leadership, the Commonwealth has conserved more than 75,000 acres, which are now protected open spaces for future generations to enjoy."

Established in 1977 as the Urban Self-Help program, PARC grants are offered on a competitive basis and reimburse communities between 52 and 70 percent of the total project cost, depending upon the income level and other demographics of municipalities, 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 be open to the public. Under the leadership of Governor Deval Patrick, there are 52 new urban parks in the Commonwealth.

"Turning this former polluted site into a green space for all to enjoy is an incredible accomplishment," said Senator Sue Tucker. "Oxford Park will enhance Lawrence's Gateway, linking the new recreational trails of the Spicket River Greenway with the great economic development happening in the neighborhood."

"The creation of green, walkable space for our families to enjoy in Lawrence is part of our ongoing work to revitalize the city and bring new jobs here," said Representative Barry Finegold. "These funds will go a long way towards that goal."

"I'm excited that this funding will unify the surrounding outdoor space, making it accessible to residents of the community who want to enjoy nature in the middle of the City," said Rep. David M. Torrisi.

"The new Oxford Park is a symbol of the rebirth of the city of Lawrence and the strength of our city," said Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua. "Through a series of strong partnerships and collaborations with the vibrant community groups in Lawrence and our state and federal partners, what was once a 19th century industrial site representative of the American Industrial Revolution has been transformed into a beautiful park which will be the gem of the Spicket River Greenway and a vital enhancement to the quality of life for the residents of Lawrence as the city continues its economic revitalization. On behalf of the residents of the city, I want to thank Governor Patrick and Secretary Bowles and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for its many years of partnership with the city."

The Lawrence grant is one of 21 grants awarded from EEA's Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) program. Funding for the programs comes from the Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in August 2008.

Recognizing that public parks are essential to the health and economic wellbeing of urban areas, but that cities often lack the resources to plan and develop them, Governor Patrick has made an unprecedented commitment of state resources for urban parks, in addition to habitat protection and the preservation of working landscapes.

Over the past four years under the leadership of Governor Patrick, the Commonwealth has protected nearly 75,000 acres of land - the equivalent 54 acres per day and representing an area bigger than the town of Plymouth, which is the largest municipality in the Commonwealth by land area. Among the conservation accomplishments are the creation of 52 new urban parks, the protection of 5,700 acres on 95 farms, preservation of land with nearly 30,000 acres of prime farm and forest soils, and protection of 14,000 acres in 10 areas of critical forested landscape habitats across Massachusetts. In addition, the Commonwealth has protected 9,300 acres within a half mile of drinking water reservoirs across the state.