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Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Awards Gateway Cities Park Grants

Projects in Attleboro, Fitchburg and Leominster, Haverhill, and Methuen to Receive Funding
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  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards Gateway Cities Park Grants

Katie Gronendyke,

Haverhill — At an Earth Week tree planting ceremony in Haverhill’s Riverside Park, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton today announced grants totaling $5.3 million to help the cities of Attleboro, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Leominster and Methuen design and build four park and trail projects.  

“These grants provide paths for people to commute and exercise and parks for people to enjoy close to home for generations to come,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Opportunities for outdoor recreation improve quality of life and respect for our environment, so our administration is working with municipalities and other partners across the Commonwealth to allow all Massachusetts residents access to the beautiful outdoors.”

“Public parks are essential to the health and economic well-being of urban areas, but cities often lack the resources to plan and develop them,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Through this program, we are able to invest in important park projects and help municipalities provide outdoor spaces for their citizens.”

The grants, funded through the Environmental Bond Bill, are awarded through EEA’s Gateway City Parks Program. The program funds the creation or restoration of significant urban parks and trails in the 26 Gateway Cities, often projects that would otherwise be difficult to build.  Priority is given to projects that support broader urban revitalization efforts; are ineligible for other funding sources; address critical park infrastructure needs; have strong support from city leaders; engage local businesses, neighbors and others in park financing, programming and stewardship; or are accessible to environmental justice populations.

“This funding was awarded to projects that not only provide recreational opportunity, but also contribute to the overall revitalization of these communities,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration is dedicated to providing access to open space to all Commonwealth residents, regardless of zip code.”

City of Attleboro - Ten Mile Riverwalk ($1.1 million)

The City of Attleboro will utilize this grant and Community Development Block Grant funding to extend the Ten Mile Riverwalk from Wall Street to County Street.  This section will include a bridge and a section of boardwalk, made necessary by a narrow and steeply sloped site.  Improvements related to the Riverwalk include signage, lighting, state of the art “green” stormwater features, pervious pavement, fencing, bike racks and full handicap accessibility.  Upon completion, the City will enjoy a continuous path from Olive Street through Balfour Park, and onward along the Ten Mile River. The design, completed by the Horsley Witten Group, was funded by a prior Gateway City Parks Grant.

Cities of Fitchburg & Leominster – Twin Cities Rail Trail ($2.4 million) 

This grant will be used for designing, engineering and permitting the 4.5 mile trail connection project from Fitchburg Center to Leominster Center.  The trail will run along the former Fitchburg Secondary rail line between downtown Leominster in the south and the MBTA station in downtown Fitchburg.  Thus, it enables commute travel in addition to recreational use.  The trail will be fully accessible and provide for convenient walking and biking access along its entire route. 

City of Haverhill – Riverside Park ($180,000)

This grant will be matched by $180,000 from the City of Haverhill for the renovation and reconstruction of Riverside Park. Grant and city funds will be used to develop, widen and improve the multi-use trail network throughout the Park and along the Merrimack River bank to encourage more bicycling and walking around the park including the addition of bike racks, signage and striping. The grant will also improve Americans with Disabilities Act access to the park, especially at the eastern entryway by the shopping plaza, and provide better designation and spaces for handicapped parking, Additionally, funding from the grant will be used to add exercise stations geared toward older adults and senior citizens, as well as plant up to 150 additional trees in the park to provide greater shade, especially along the walking/biking paths.

City of Methuen – Methuen Rail Trail ($1.65 million)

This grant provides funding for design and construction documents for the Methuen Rail Trail, as well as money to pave and add related amenities to this multi-use path from the Manchester Street Park in Lawrence at the city line through downtown Methuen to the border with Salem, New Hampshire. With this grant, the City of Methuen will be able to hire a firm to design and permit the project, as well as a construction contractor, with the intent to complete construction by July 1, 2017.   This trail, 2.4 miles in length with only one at-grade crossing, will run along the former Manchester and Lawrence Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad.  The surface is presently mostly gravel or crushed stone, and this grant will enable the surface to be paved. 

“This grant will improve and enhance Riverside Park by creating greater accessibility and usability for everyone,” said State Representative Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill).  “It’s important that we continue to provide our residents with open space and opportunities for healthy living by investing in our parks and green space.”

“This funding through the state Gateway City Parks Program will result in improved recreational opportunities in Haverhill and Methuen by investing in the parks and trails right here in the Merrimack Valley,” said State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport).

“This investment in Methuen by the Commonwealth will connect the rail trail from Lawrence, North to Concord NH and then north west to the NH / Vermont border,” said State Representative Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen). “Here in the Merrimack Valley it will spur economic development in downtown Methuen and the region.  It will also provide local residents with a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors.”

“The projects made possible through these grants not only contribute to the growing beauty and overall enrichment of our Commonwealth, but also serve to increase the livelihood and health of our gateway cities by investing in outdoor spaces that truly benefit everyone in those communities,” said State Representative Lenny Mirra (R-West Newbury). “As both a legislator and an avid cyclist, I am thrilled on two fronts about today’s announcement.”

“I stand with my fellow colleagues in the Methuen and Haverhill legislative delegations in celebrating the announcement of these important Gateway Cities Park Grants,” said State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). “These funds will be immensely helpful in supporting construction efforts at both the Methuen Rail Trail and Riverside Park.”

“I am very pleased that the City of Attleboro has received funding to help them extend and improve the Ten Mile Riverwalk,” said State Senator Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham). “Prioritizing our recreational areas and public parks is essential for the well-being of our residents as well as the economic revitalization of our communities. I am grateful that the Baker-Polito Administration is working with our municipalities to ensure that the people of the Commonwealth can enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors right in their own backyard.”

“The Gateway Cities Park Grant and the Community Development Block Grant funding are extremely beneficial to the Attleboro community and the region,” said State Senator James E. Timilty (D-Walpole). “Expanding handicap accessibility beyond the fully ADA compliant Balfour Riverwalk Park will further revitalize the city’s downtown while preserving Attleboro’s natural history.”

“I am so thrilled that the citizens of Attleboro will be able to enjoy these wonderful beautification improvements of the Ten Mile Riverwalk,” said State Representative Elizabeth Poirier (R-North Attleboro). “What a great opportunity for individuals and families to explore and enjoy the outdoors in an effort to improve their quality of life as well as experiencing positive health benefits.”

“This grant comes at a critical time for an important part of the Attleboro Redevelopment plans,” said State Representative Paul Heroux (D-Attleboro). “I am thankful to the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs for selecting Attleboro, and to my colleagues in the House and Senate for making this money available to Gateway communities.”

 “The City of Attleboro is elated by this grant disbursement,” said Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas. “The ‘10 Mile Riverwalk Project’ is complementary to our vast redevelopment efforts in our Intermodal Transit Oriented Development District that also includes the creation of Riverfront Drive and Park. The ‘10 Mile Riverwalk Project’ will connect this newly created area along the banks of the river, extending up to the existing Balfour Riverwalk. This will complete another section of our own Emerald Necklace in the heart of Downtown Attleboro. This ‘10 Mile Riverwalk Project’ will entail a bridge and boardwalk that will create a continuous urban walking and bicycle trail, championing green space and aquatic preservation with a harmonious balance of growth and development.”

 “I want to thank Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, Secretary Beaton and our legislative delegation for their continued commitment to Haverhill and for giving us the ability to enhance our parks and recreation areas for the betterment of our community,” said Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini. “The additional tree plantings and exercise equipment for our children and adults will add tremendous value to our parks and help our community enjoy family time while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

“As the Mayor of Leominster for 22 years, we have continually pursued the Twin City Rail Trail (TRCT),” said Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella. “The cities of Fitchburg and Leominster have worked together on this for a very long time to overcome many obstacles.  The TCRT will provide people and families a chance to get more exercise as well as connecting people with local businesses. To see it happening after all these years is the result of positivity and persistent team work through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs with many other agencies in our efforts to provide connectivity in all areas in and around Leominster.”

 “This is wonderful news,” said Fitchburg Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale. “The Twin Cities Rail Trail will provide a much needed recreation amenity to residents of Fitchburg and the entire region. This trail is the first dedicated safe means of access for pedestrians and bicyclist to and from the two cities and will also link a network of interconnected trails along the Nashua River.  The trail will eventually connect to both cities’ inter-modal transportation facilities and spur economic activity along its entire 4.2 mile length.” 

“The City of Methuen is extremely grateful to our leaders at the state level for recognizing the importance of the Rail Trail Project in the city and providing this funding,” said Methuen Mayor Stephen N. Zanni.  “We can now move forward with exciting plans for the development of the Rail Trail as a catalyst for additional investment in our downtown.”


Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards Gateway Cities Park Grants

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs seeks to protect, preserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s environmental resources while ensuring a clean energy future for the state’s residents. Through the stewardship of open space, protection of environmental resources, and enhancement of clean energy, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs works tirelessly to make Massachusetts a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.