For Immediate Release - October 26, 2010

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Grants to Improve 28 Parks in 19 Communities

BOSTON - Monday, October 25, 2010 - In keeping with Governor Deval Patrick's unprecedented commitment to improve public parks across the state, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles today announced $8.9 million in grants for 28 projects to enhance parks and recreational facilities throughout the Commonwealth.

"Parks are the centerpieces of any community, and investments like these ensure urban public spaces across the Commonwealth are renovated, constructed and maintained for the enjoyment of families, individuals and their communities for years to come," said Governor Patrick.

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 support for urban parks, in addition to habitat protection and the preservation of working landscapes.

"Under the leadership of Governor Patrick, there are 52 new urban parks in Massachusetts," said Secretary Bowles. "With the help of local and municipal leaders and community organizations, protecting and maintaining these public spaces will provide accessible facilities for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages."

Today's grants include 21 awarded from EEA's Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) program and seven from the Gateway City Parks program. The 21 PARC grants total $7.8 million to help municipal parks and recreation commissions acquire parkland, renovate existing parks or build new parks and other outdoor recreation facilities. The Gateway City Parks grants totaling $1.1 million will fund all phases of park development.

Over the last four years, the Patrick-Murray Administration has invested in the creation or restoration of 114 parks.

The grants will fund projects in Beverly, Boston, Chelsea, Dartmouth, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Melrose, Northampton, Pittsfield, Somerville, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield and Worcester.

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 demographics of municipalities, with a maximum grant award of $500,000. Municipalities receiving PARC grants must have a current Open Space and Recreation Plan and an authorized parks and recreation commission, and the land must be under parks commission jurisdiction and be open to the public. Grant applicants are assessed based on project quality, community demographics and other criteria. Preference is given to park projects located close to urban centers and public transportation or serving environmental justice populations.

Gateway City Parks is a flexible program, providing municipal officials with a menu of funding options for all phases of park development. Twenty-two Massachusetts cities are eligible for the program, which targets communities with population greater than 35,000 and median household incomes, per capita 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 not previously eligible for state parks funding. Cities can also use the grants for acquisition, design and construction of parks, greenways, and other recreational facilities. Funding for both grant programs comes from the Energy and Environment Bond Bill signed by Governor Patrick in August 2008.

Twelve of this year's PARC grants are in Gateway cities, and seven of the PARC grants help to construct projects that were designed via the Gateway City Parks Program.

Over the past four years, the Patrick-Murray Administration has protected more than 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.

Massachusetts now has more than 1.2 million acres permanently protected. For the first time in decades, the acres of land protected from development in Massachusetts are greater than acres that have been developed.

"We're thrilled that the Patrick Administration has maintained its commitment to preserve and enhance so much green space throughout the Commonwealth," said Sen. Anthony Petruccelli, co-chair Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. "Parks and recreational spaces connect our neighborhoods and significantly add to our quality of life."

"Public open space is an absolutely essential resource for any community," said Rep. Bill Straus, co-chair Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. "The invaluable benefits that parks provide in areas such as public health, the environment, land values, and overall quality of life are well known. These grants will help to ensure that municipal parks continue to thrive statewide," added Straus.

The following communities will receive PARC grant funding over two years:

Beverly - Community Recreation Facility

  • $500,000 for a park renovation
  • The grant will fund the installation of an artificial turf field at the city's high school, as well as a stone dust path around the field.

Boston - Alvah Kittredge Park

  • $310,648 for a park renovation.
  • The work will include the removal of existing concrete walls, tables, and dilapidated benches and the replacement of lawn space with two seating areas/plazas and a curvilinear walkway, an interpretive timeline of neighborhood history and a water play feature.

Boston - Cronin/Wainwright Park

  • $500,000 for a park renovation.
  • The project will reconstruct the park by relocating the main entrance, adding a new basketball court and paths, planting shade trees, constructing new tot lots, and installing a new water spray feature, ornamental fencing, and interpretive panels.

Boston - Laviscount Park

  • $329,382 for a park renovation.
  • The project will include renovating all four park entrances, adding a gated vehicular entry, restoring the lawn and an ornamental metal fence, planting trees, and installing a perimeter path with track surfacing, play equipment, a water spray feature, and safety surfacing.

Boston - Howes Playground

  • $500,000 for a park renovation.
  • The grant will fund the restoration of a wooded area to create a natural amphitheatre in the park's rock outcropping, planting of shade trees, installation of exercise stations and interpretive panels, renovation of the existing swings and water spray feature, replacement of paving and benches, and installation of an ornamental metal fence.

Chelsea - Box District Park

  • $500,000 for park development.
  • The project will consist of site preparation and the installation of a paved plaza, two play structures, fountains, sculptures, benches, trellis, trees, and vegetation.

Dartmouth - Dartmouth Community Park

  • $214,020 for park development.
  • The work includes construction of a handicap accessible playground, installation of benches and picnic tables, landscaping, and energy efficient LED lighting, and the addition of two tot lots. This will project will result in a new park for the town.

Haverhill - Pentucket-Bradford Heritage Preservation Initiative

  • $127,297 for park development and renovation.
  • The grant will fund construction of ramp improvements to make the ground at Pentucket and Old Bradford Burial Grounds more handicapped accessible. The project also features the construction of a new park and playground on land adjacent to the city's Merrimack River boat ramp.

Lawrence - Oxford Paper Site

  • $500,000 for park development.
  • The project will fund the construction of a new park that includes a walkway, a Spicket River Greenway connection, a meadow with low-maintenance wildflowers, and the planting of 118 deciduous and 21 evergreen trees.

Leominster - Fournier Park Restoration Project

  • $105,400 for a park renovation.
  • The grant will fund the construction of two separate play areas, which are fully accessible to the physically and mentally disabled.

Lynn - High Rock Reservation

  • $500,000 for a park renovation.
  • The funds will be used to construct a parking area, bus turnaround, and a pathway from Essex Street to the Stone Cottage and improve the base of an adjacent stone tower.

Malden - South Broadway Park Improvements

  • $500,000 for a park renovation.
  • The project includes the installation of a multi-purpose synthetic field for baseball, lacrosse, and soccer, three tennis courts, a new tot lot, a basketball court, a sports lighting system, site utilities, spectator and general seating, pedestrian walkways, landscaping, and fencing.

Northampton - Bean-Allard Athletic Field

  • $500,000 for a park acquisition and development.
  • The grant will fund the acquisition of 24 acres of land, as well as the design and construction of one multipurpose field.

Pittsfield - Skate Park Development Project

  • $150,500 for park development.
  • The project will convert an existing city-owned 0.7 acre parcel into a premier skate and bike park.

Somerville - Dickerman Park Renovation

  • $256,000 for a park renovation.
  • The project will refurbish the existing play structures and water play area, add a new rubber surface, benches, and three table-chair combinations, and incorporate garden space, a picnic area, a tai chi/yoga area, seating, and a bocce court.

Somerville - Morse-Kelley Park Renovation

  • $384,000 for a park renovation.
  • The grant will help to install six skate rails, benches, and steps into the park's active recreation areas; add stickball markings and two lateral climbing walls; and construct a mural, 18 community garden plots, a water source, storage facility, composter, and a bulletin board.

Somerville - 15-25 Cross Street East Acquisition

  • $403,200 for a park acquisition.
  • The funds will be used to acquire 0.38 acres of land that will be developed into a recreation space in East Somerville.

Springfield - Emerson Wight Park

  • $500,000 for a park renovation.
  • The project will construct a new entrance area for the park, benches, game tables, a ball field, drinking fountain, backstop and players benches, walkways, three child play areas, a water spray area, picnic grove, amphitheater, and basketball court.

Taunton - Taunton Skate Park

  • $158,609 for a park development.
  • The grant funds will be used to construct a new skate park.

Westfield - Chapman Playground Rehabilitation Project

  • $500,000 for a park renovation.
  • The project features the installation an accessible play structure, a water-spray park consisting of vertical and ground-level features, a restroom building, an open-sided pavilion, a fitness circuit, and a basketball court. The project will renovate a playfield, upgrade address pedestrian and vehicular circulation, on-site parking and site lighting, and provide educational signage.

Worcester - Kendrick Field Renovation

  • $250,000 for a park renovation.
  • The project includes the installation of benches, utility upgrades, shelters, signage, fencing around the field and a field lighting system that will allow evening use of the softball/multipurpose field. The project includes landscape planting and a parking lot renovation.

The following cities received grants through the Gateway City Parks initiative:

Chelsea - CSX Right of Way

  • $90,000 to review options for reuse of the CSX rail right of way as both an urban ring transit corridor and walking/bike path.

Haverhill - Swasey Park

  • $151,000 to produce design and construction documents for the restoration of Swasey Park.

Holyoke - Veterans Park

  • $122,000 to produce a design for the restoration of Veterans Park.

Lowell - South Common

  • $126,000 to produce design and construction documents for the restoration of South Common.

Lynn - Lynn Common

  • $40,000 to produce a design for the restoration of Lynn Common.

Malden / Melrose - Pine Banks Park

  • $500,000 to renovate Pine Banks Park including the installation of field lighting and the construction of a running track, multi-use field, softball field, and parking.

Westfield - Chapman Playground

$90,000 to produce design documents for the restoration of Chapman Playground.